by Sonny Dearth, April 12, 2018
Speaking of “reeling in,” how many tennis players can say they’ve brought in a barracuda on a fishing excursion? Karpinski can.
“I really like to go fishing,” Karpinski said, recounting a trip with his family to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I caught a barracuda deep-sea fishing nine years ago, when I was 9 or 10. I got the bite and I just wasn’t strong enough to reel it in, so my dad helped me. It probably took about two minutes.”
Back on land, Karpinski has played tennis since age 5. It came naturally since his parents had played college tennis in Maryland – Anne at Mount St. Mary’s and Kevin at Frostburg State – and his two older brothers also were playing. “It was nice to join them on the court,” William said.
Karpinski said he also played basketball and soccer until he was in the seventh grade, “but tennis was always my favorite.”
Now a three-star recruit, Karpinski has been a four-star. As of March 12, he was ranked ninth among seniors in Maryland, 40th in the Mid-Atlantic Section and 205th in the nation.
He’s looking to play many Men’s Open tournaments as he prepares to head to Harrisonburg, Virginia, in August to play for coach Steve Secord’s Dukes.
“The jump to college is going to be pretty big,” Karpinski said. “I’m kind of an all-court player right now, but I’ve been working on my serve and my forehand a lot lately. I’m kind of a big guy (6-foot-3, 187 pounds), so I’ve been getting some more pop on my serve, getting more comfortable with coming to net.”
Since eighth grade, Karpinski has been under the guidance of coach Steve Miguel at 4 Star Tennis. The Churchill High School senior said he went on visits to East Carolina and Fairfield, a Division I university in Connecticut, but said “I’ve always wanted to go to JMU. I was just really impressed with the coaches, and the athletic facilities are super-nice. Obviously the academics – I went to a classroom and I was really impressed.”
After many years of players needing to travel about 20 minutes to use two indoor courts at Bridgewater College to stay sharp, JMU recently opened a three-court indoor facility on campus near its Convocation Center.
“I went and saw the first match in there against St. Francis,” Karpinski said, referring to the JMU men’s and women’s teams’ triumphs Jan. 21 over the Red Flash. “It was awesome. They’re on the way up and are a relatively young team. I saw this coming.”
Karpinski hopes to continue the momentum he gained at a tournament last December at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.
“I wasn’t playing too well before then, but that tournament I beat the No. 1 seed in the first round … and had three wins versus four-star recruits,” he said.
At a January Men’s Open in Charlottesville, Karpinski recalled playing doubles with Virginia Tech-bound senior Ryan Bernstine. They led 4-1 against current UVA starters Aswin Lizen and Kyrylo Tsygura before losing 6-4.
Karpinski said he thinks he will major in business, a program for which JMU is renowned. He is on Churchill High’s honor roll and said he earned a Montgomery County award called “Minds in Motion,” which goes to athletes who carry at least a 3.3 grade-point average in their sporting season.
He is beginning his fourth year as a captain on Churchill’s tennis team and hopes to advance as far in the Maryland high school playoffs as possible before graduation.
At JMU, there’s unlikely to be an encore struggle with a barracuda, since the Atlantic Ocean is about a four-hour drive. Karpinski will have to go to a nearby river in the Shenandoah Valley or drop a line in the calm Newman Lake on campus.
But like Mike Houston, the coach who has taken JMU to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title and a runner-up finish in the past two years, Karpinski has learned how to finish a conversation: “Go Dukes.”