Pulsfort and Sheehan Set to Take Aim at New Challenge
April 13, 2009
By Laina Balafas - Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant
Two members of the No. 24 South Carolina men's tennis team learned this month that they will be joining the country's No. 1 program next year - the No.1 International Business program in the nation, that is. Gamecock sophomores Johannes Pulsfort and Chris Sheehan have been as dedicated in the classroom as they are on the court and have earned early admission into one of the University's most selective programs.
In order to be accepted into the undergraduate International Business program, students must have completed 45 hours of coursework and have a GPA of at least 3.5 for all courses. According to Dr. Kendall Roth, the department chair for the International Business program, the application process is self-selecting because of how tough it is.
"One of the reasons I chose to come to South Carolina was the International Business program, so I am very happy that I was able to work so hard and get accepted," said Sheehan of his accomplishment.
Gaining acceptance into the top International Business program is "a very significant achievement for these two student-athletes," said Roth. There are other student-athletes in the program as well, which, according to Roth, credits the academic focus of the athletic department.
Pulsfort confirmed that in his experience in the United States, teachers really help the students and ensure that they succeed in the classroom. "All of my teachers here want me to do well," he said. "It is very helpful how they design the tutoring program for student-athletes."
One might think that playing a Division I sport would not allow a student-athlete much time to study, but both players said they preferred their schedules during tennis season because it forces them to stay on task.
"I have been balancing tennis and school work for a long time," said Pulsfort. "I have gotten used to the pressure of school and tennis together."
Sheehan agreed. "The good part is that you're always on a schedule. Between practice and classes, you know you have a certain number of hours a day to get work and studying done."
Coming from completely different parts of the world with completely different backgrounds, it was tennis and their similar course loads that brought Sheehan and Pulsfort closer together. The two players are living together this year, and see that as an advantage for school. They will use each other as motivation as the classes begin to get more challenging.
"It's good living with someone who has the same major, since we have a lot of the same teachers and the same work to do," Sheehan explains. "We definitely help each other when it comes to studying and doing other work."
Being away from home during college is nothing new for Pulsfort, a native of Lueneberg, Germany. When he was 16 years old, he moved to Barcelona by himself to play tennis and attend school at the Schiller International School. It was there that he worked with Thomas Anderson, who helped him find an American university that best met his criteria.
"I knew I wanted to study international business and play tennis, so Anderson came up with a list of schools that included South Carolina, Minnesota and three schools in California," said Pulsfort.
After visiting all five and meeting with the teams, Pulsfort knew that South Carolina was the best match for him.
"The SEC is one of the best conferences for tennis, and the fact that South Carolina has the best International Business program was a huge part of why I chose to come here," he said.
The decision to come to South Carolina was not so easy for Chris Sheehan. Coming from Charlotte, there was a time when he didn't know if he wanted to continue playing tennis, and he actually took some time off. During that time, he realized that he did in fact want to keep playing, and made winning a state championship his ultimate goal. After that goal was accomplished during his senior year, he made playing in college his next goal. With scholarship offers from James Madison and Furman, Sheehan chose to walk on at South Carolina.
"I wanted to play at a bigger school," said Sheehan, "and the International Business program at South Carolina is the best in the country."
For both players, post-college plans are still in the works, but both know that their degrees in International Business will help them greatly.
"I would like to work for a company that does a lot of business in Spain or South America," said Sheehan. "I really like to travel, and I'm hoping this degree will allow me to do that while working."
Post-graduate plans are a little more open for Pulsfort, since he will be finishing school about the same time that most German students are just beginning their college educations.
"I'm not sure what I want to do yet," Pulsfort said. "I have the option of going back to Germany to study more and specialize my education."
Both players hope their excellence in the classroom, as well as on the tennis courts, continues for their final two years at South Carolina.