Sven Kasper's hobby requires a computer, which isn't unusual for a college student. Kasper, however, isn't downloading music or fighting battles in cyberspace.
His hobby is preparation for a career in finance after his days as tennis player are finished. When Wichita State coach Brad Louderback got up early in California to sit outside and discuss tennis with his assistant coach, he found Kasper with his computer studying the futures markets for commodities such as oil, coffee or wheat.
"I like to take risks," Kasper said. "I like statistics and the markets — it's not about anything else other than statistics. If it's gone up, it has to come down sometime."
Kasper's focus this weekend is on tennis with the Missouri Valley Conference Championship at WSU's Coleman Tennis Complex and Crestview Country Club. The second-seeded Shockers haven't won since 2004, a lengthy drought for a school with 22 titles.
"It's not pressure on us, because we are not picked to win," Kasper said. "But I think we are ready this year to make a statement."
Kasper, a redshirt freshman from Estonia, will be a part of any statement the Shockers make. He went 3-2 at No. 1 singles in MVC matches and 19-13 overall. He spent the fall sharpening his game after his redshirt year and moved up from No. 3 to No. 1 during the spring season.
"He's got a real, real big game," Louderback said. "He's got a huge serve. Big forehand. The big thing we've been working on with Sven is his consistency."
If Kasper's first serve is hot, he can dominate. He is also capable of losing to inferior players.
"I'm more of a risk-taker," he said. "I'm not very good at defense, although I could be ... but I'm playing more aggressively."
That is both the good and the bad of Kasper's game.
"He's mastered the hardest parts of the game," Louderback. "Some of the easier parts of the game, he's got to go back and focus on. He's been able to sit back on the baseline and establish the point better and wait for a loose or shallow ball. His transition game, if it's on, he's hard to beat."
Louderback is trying to show Kasper when to take risks and when play conservatively.
"If I were to give him money and say I don't want it in the riskiest fund, he would probably understand that," Louderback said. "That's what I want him to understand on the court — he doesn't always have to be that risky."
Kasper's risks with the futures are all imaginary now. He and a mentor, also a tennis player, study their computer system and buy and sell and track the results without using money. It's training that Kasper believes will pay off in the future.
"I've been playing tennis my whole life, so the emotion is stronger," he said. "If you're a day trader, you're under pressure all the time. It's a good feeling. But you don't want to get too emotional, and that's the same thing with tennis."
WSU women favored — The Shockers went 7-0 in the MVC regular-season play and will try to defend their tournament title.
No. 1 singles player Lutfiana Budiharto, No. 3 Lenore Lazaroiu, No. 4 Delia Damaschin and No. 5 Florentina Hanisch went unbeaten in MVC play. In doubles, Budiharto and Stephanie Dalmacio and Hanisch-Lazaroiu also went unbeaten in conference matches.
Second-seeded Illinois State and seventh-seeded Creighton were the only MVC teams to more than one point against WSU.