April 12, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - As a young child, Matt Frost dreamed of one day playing tennis at a higher level than just his typical tournaments.
For him, the game was art form - something that he could never imagine forgetting at any point in his life. As Frost grew older and grew to new heights in his education, he solidified in his mind that he could never let go of a sport that gave him so much.
But a time came in his life where several phone calls from North America would change his entire plans to stay within his home city of London, UK. On the other end of the line were coaches from the University of Southern Mississippi, expressing interest in Frost's talents on the court.
"It's a nice feeling to know that someone across the world wants you to come play for them," Frost recalled. "It was also a sense of relief for me that I kind of had my college career sorted out, but I still had a big decision to make."
Frost was able to grab the attention of universities, like Southern Miss, through agencies in the United Kingdom that specify in creating online profiles for aspiring collegiate athletes. While attending Richard Hale School in Hertford, the tennis player had gone through the process of advertising his abilities and hoped to grab attention from an institution.
Once Southern Miss agreed to add Frost to the roster, he signed his paperwork and packed for a new chapter in the United States. He arrived in Hattiesburg after being greeted by the dismal heat of fall in 2011.
Currently a sophomore, Frost claims that he never had the opportunity to visit USM before attending his freshman year. Due to the sheer distance between his home and America, along with other complications, he sat in his first classes without ever touring the campus before enrollment.
"I thought it was very different, compared to a United Kingdom campus," he said. "It was definitely hotter than I had expected - it was ridiculous."
Frost admits it also took him awhile to adjust to his new life, while filling out stacks of university paperwork in the process. In the end, he just wanted to hit the court donning black and gold.
"The first week was hard with all of the trips to the International Building and all of the documents that needed signing," he said. "When I got to campus, practice hadn't started yet, so it was anxious just to play again and get started."
He also admits that the campus itself was a significant change, unlike what he was accustomed to at home. Even the popularity of athletics was different.
"College sports is such a huge thing here in America," he said. "If you played for a school team in the UK, no one would know who you are because everyone's focused on just the degree they want."
Being treated like a student-athlete was an adjustment for Frost, which was almost unheard of at home. He says that the significance of sports was also something to get used to.
"You're just a guy who happens to be on a team, when you're in the UK," he said." "Here, you're a student-athlete and that means something."
Just the scenery alone was a change from the bustling streets of London. For Frost, it was a culture shock of college life.
"It amazes me how spread out things are in America - everything's really close together back home," he said. "Even the whole fraternity and sorority thing is all new to me. We don't really have that in England."
But over time, Frost found his niche once the tennis season began. He then received the chance to play the No. 1 position on the team, having a strong freshman campaign.
Racking up a solid profile on the court, he also excelled in his studies. During his first year, he was a President's List Scholar and achieved a Conference USA Academic Medal.
His most recent merit was a C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, which he and three of his fellow teammates earned. Currently studying Sports Management, Frost says that, in the end, it's about getting his degree.
Though, his life didn't revolve around tennis for his first few childhood years. Before finding his sport, Frost was an avid soccer and cricket player.
But one sports camp changed his athletic interests altogether as he picked up a racquet for the first time. It was when he was six that his passion for tennis officially started, with both parents, Martin and Liz, back him every step of the way.
"They always supported me - taking me to practice and watching me play," he said. "If it wasn't for them, I definitely wouldn't be here. I don't think any of us thought it would get this far."
With two years left in his career, Frost hopes to one day make it to the NCAA Tournament and accomplish one of his many goals. He is doing just that with Sports Management also, coaching other players the art of the game whenever he travels back to England.
As the midway point in his college years are in full swing, Frost hopes to make many more memories. He also admits that attending Southern Miss was an important decision for himself and his life.
"For once, this is a point in time where it gets to be all about you," he said. "That doesn't happen very often, but with tennis, it can be."
Southern Miss concludes its regular season on the road at Louisiana on Saturday in a 1 p.m. match.