Ever since Badger’s Mason Sniatynski won the Southern Lakes Conference one singles title as a freshman, it has been clear he is the conference’s top player.
Recently, though, it has become clear he is one of the best players in the state. And Sniatynski’s prowess was confirmed when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel named him one of its finalists for a Tennis Player of the Year award this spring.
One of nine finalists for the award, Sniatynski earned a seat at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on May 7 for the Journal Sentinel’s annual high school sports award show. To be surrounded by the best athletes across the state in all sports was something Sniatynski never could have imagined before it happened.
“If someone would’ve told me four years ago going into high school as a freshman that I would be nominated for player of the year and sit with some of those great athletes there, I would’ve said you were nuts. And yet, there I was,” Sniatynski said.
With the Badgers competing in a meet at Union Grove High School the same night as the ceremony, Sniatynski went from picking up a 6-0, 6-0 win over the Broncos’ Reid Fredrickson to donning a tux in downtown Milwaukee in the same evening.
Even though the title of the best tennis player in the state ended up going to Nicolet’s Jaden Aranda for the second year in a row, the Badger tennis star was not mad that he did not get the trophy. He was mad that he did not get to meet the guest speaker, Michael Phelps, backstage.
“He’s become one of my favorite athletes,” Sniatynski said. “I was a little upset when I found out that if you did win the player of the year, you got to get a picture with him.”
As someone who does not usually dwell on where he stands among the state’s best, when he was sitting alongside the state’s cream of the crop, Sniatynski finally realized just what a great run he has had.
“I’m not usually one to tell people, ‘Hey, I’m really good at this sport,’” Sniatynski said. “Now that I was there in that moment, it really felt like, ‘Wow I belong.’”