We recently got to chat with Fiji tennis legend Daneric Hazelman. Daneric has participated and won some of Oceania’s biggest events. The Natabua High School graduate has been busy since leaving Fiji on a tennis scholarship in 2008. The interview discusses his successes and aspirations, both on and off the court. While his education and career have kept him in America, the Pacific Games could lure him back to our shores. Daneric is working to make himself viable for Samoa 2019. Read-on to reacquaint yourself with Fiji’s tennis titan Daneric Hazelman.
(TF) Daneric, where are you and what are you doing these days?
(DH) I’m currently in Kenosha, Wisconsin at Carthage College working as the graduate assistant for the men’s and women’s tennis programs.
(TF) And you graduate in May right?
(DH) Yes, graduating in May 2019, with a master’s in education and focus on leadership.
(TF) Now when you were a junior in Fiji, you had a very successful career. You won two Pacific Oceania Junior Championships right?
(DH) Yes. Won the under 14’s one time and then won the 18’s once
(TF) What were some of your other junior accomplishments or memorable moments as a tennis player growing up in Fiji?
(DH) Making the end of year teams to New Zealand and Australia. The junior circuit in Fiji was also good fun and enjoyed competing. I enjoyed being the underdog and surprising people with my results.
(TF) You followed up an impressive junior career with a successful collegiate career. Could you tell us a little bit about your playing time in America?
(DH) Played at New Mexico Military Institute for two years finishing top 10 in the nation (NJCAA) for both years as a team. Then transferred to Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where I played my final two years. First-team all-conference both years and held the singles and doubles win record at Carthage College as well as being an All-American (NCAA DIII).
(TF) You have also represented Fiji at the Pacific Games in Samoa, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea. Could you talk us through what those Pacific Games meant to you?
(DH) It was definitely an honor and blessing to make the Pacific Games squad. Especially the one to Samoa. That was my first time, and I was the youngest player on the team. It helped me realize how much I had to improve on my game and the level of tennis that I would have to play at to win a medal. Making the team to New Caledonia was great. We definitely had the team to make medals, but we fell short, and so it was nice to go to Papua New Guinea and win a medal. I think the training squad, even though it was short, it was amazing. Surrounding myself around the right people and having them commit to something like working towards a medal in a short amount of time was impressive. Putting in the work, day in day out, being a team player really helped with fitness and mental toughness.
(TF) What medal did you win in Papua New Guinea?
(DH) I won a bronze medal in Papua New Guinea with my doubles partner William O’Connell. Very unfortunate to lose out in the semifinals after being up in the lead, but I was very impressed with the performance we had to come out the next day and win the bronze medal. I think that showed overcoming adversity. The training and the commitment paid off in the end. It was nice to come back home with something for Fiji Tennis and show that we can compete in the Pacific.
(TF) At Carthage College, right now, you’re working on master’s degree number two. What do you want to do with this degree when you graduate?
(DH) With this degree, I hope to be in a managerial position helping people excel by working for a renewable energy company. Long story short, I just want to help people in general; give back to the community and help people achieve their goals. This brings me happiness and inspiration.
(TF) While completing your degree you are also working as a graduate assistant tennis coach, what are some of your duties in this role?
(DH) I help do individuals with the players and help out with the drills, conditioning, and practices on a daily basis.
(TF) How is your tennis game going and how often are you playing?
(DH) My tennis game is not where I want it to be right now. I’ve been coaching more and working on my players’ performance. My doubles game is decent but my singles game I need to improve on. They both can improve. There is always something to learn, and I can always get better at something. I know I can never be satisfied with where I’m at, so that drive and mentality keep me pushing and working towards my growth and goals.
(TF) Are we going to see you at the 2019 Pacific games?
(DH) I graduate in May, and I’ve been away from Fiji Tennis for a while. I’m always looking forward to representing the country again and contribute in any way possible. This next month will be interesting for me, but I am eager to play with the tenacity I’m known for in the Fiji colours again.