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Winning Inter College Games for two consecutive years overcoming weakness

Shota Tagawa

Two consecutive victories at the Inter College Games!
Shota screaming with joy
(Photo: Yoshiharu Yokoyama)

Shota during his match (Inter College Games)
(Photo: Yoshiharu Yokoyama)

With a tennis racket in place of a baseball bat, he stood on a court for the first time at the age of eight. This was because the baseball team he belonged to wound up.

When he was young, Shota Tagawa just swung the racket as if he was trying for a homerun without knowing the rules, but now as a university student, he developed himself to the point to be able to win the All Japan Inter College Championship ("Inter College Games") for two years in a row. The path he followed was a struggle against "his weaknesses."

He joined the WASEDA Tennis Team he had wanted to join, but was busy with other miscellaneous duties. In his second spring as a university student, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. The new semester was delayed for one month, and in the meantime, Shota had tough intensive training under the instruction of Toshihisa Dobashi, the team coach. When he was a student, Toshihisa Dobashi was a player who won the Inter College Games for four consecutive years. "Mr. Dobashi's commitment to tennis is stronger and purer than anyone else," Shota says. "Training was so tough that it might make you want to escape, but as I could feel his commitment, I made a great effort to follow him. If it hadn't been for Mr. Dobashi, I would have become lost."

In the qualification round in his 2nd year following the harsh training, Shota was defeated by Jun Ito, captain of the WASEDA Tennis Team in the semifinal. Though he lost the match, he got a good response. "Prior to that, I was reckless, thinking, 'I won't be able to win anyway,' when I played against a better player," Shota recalls. "But in that match, I could vie with a senior player whom I had thought I was unable to beat. I might even have won if my determination had been stronger."

Really feeling his development in terms of technique, Shota overcome his weakness to give up before a game stated. Though beaten by his senior, he reached the necessary position and was able to qualify to go to final selection. He played in the Inter College Games with a strong determination to "beat the opponent before me!" He made a good start in the first and second games, and in the semifinal, he played against Sho Katayama, a senior on the WASEDA Team who had had won both singles and doubles at previous Inter College games. He beat the captain for the first time after some tough rallies. With this momentum, he won the final, too, and achieved first victory at the Inter College Games that he had longed for.

Now he is in the 3rd year, and in a position to be pursued. In preparing for his third Inter College Games, he looks at the list of entries, and just feels, "I might damage my health if I play against such strong players under the heat."

But what he bears is consecutive victories. As he has learned that victory at the Inter College Games is not skill but an obsession to 'wins,' he needs strong will to win with a 'determination to win,' not momentum. He says that he was unsettled between confidence and self-conceit, but if self-conceit leads to not being ready, he cannot win even his first match. His biggest enemy was himself. He competed through individual matches without relieving tension, and consequently won the Inter College Games for two successive years.

Beating his own weakness, Shota made drastic development. We asked him about his ambition for his last Inter College Games for three consecutive years of victory. "The WASEDA University Tennis Team I had wanted to join since my high school days has great records built up by past senior players. To become comparable to them, I absolutely want to win."

Shota strongly said, "I am targeting the championships with a strong will," toward the coming Japan Inter College Tennis Championship and Nikke All Japan Tennis.

In the former held on October 31, both the men and women teams won first place. The women's team achieved victory for seven consecutive years, while the men's team won its eighth consecutive victory for the first time in the history of the event. At the Nikke All Japan Tennis held between November 3 and 11, Shota paired with Uchiyama (Kitanihonbussan) and beat the pair of Ito (Kitanihonbussan) and Kondo (Aisin Seiki), winning their first victory.

With Mr. Dobashi, Coach
(Photo: Yoshiharu Yokoyama)

Seven consecutive years of victory for both the men and women at the Japan Inter College Tennis Championship
(Photo: Yoshiharu Yokoyama)


Shota Tagawa

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from Shonan Institute of Technology High School. 4th place at the Nikke All Japan Tennis. His interest is fishing. When he returns to his hometown, he spends his time fishing. "Some day, I want to get on a boat and fish for tuna (laughing)."