Launceston's Ben Barnett is all the better for his freshman year in the United States.
The former Launceston Church Grammar student has been back home for nearly two months, and celebrated his 20th birthday last week ahead of his return to George Washington University at the end of July.
Braving the early morning temperatures at Launceston Regional Tennis Centre, the rising tennis talent reflected on his first year of a four-year scholarship at a university just 15 minutes' walk from the White House.
"It was great," Barnett said.
"I missed home a lot in the first few months but once I got settled in I was fine.
"It's a very fast-paced lifestyle right in the city in Washington DC so it's quite intense, so I'm enjoying being relaxed back home just cruising out a bit."
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Playing line three singles while studying business administration, Barnett recorded a respectable 16-16 win-loss ledger to go with 15-13 in line one doubles.
His youthful GWU outfit struggled at conference finals, but will have the advantage of taking an identical line-up into next year's instalment.
"I definitely feel like I've improved," he said.
"My coach over there gave me most improved player on the team so that was pretty special to get in my first year - hopefully I can keep improving next year, that's what I'm there for.
"I'd love to hold my spot in the line-up or go up and improve my win-loss record - especially against colleges in our conference and it's a team goal of ours to win the conference finals and go to nationals over there. Hopefully we can do that this year."
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With the exception of gracing select Queensland tournaments to keep form, Barnett has spent the past two months training in Launceston and spending time with family and friends.
The return to Australian competition highlighted the difference in tennis culture between his home nation and place of study.
"I think [the biggest surprise has been] just how different college tennis is to tournaments over here," he said.
"Here it's individual - you're on your own, there's not many crowds or anything, but over there everyone's really loud and vocal.
"There's heaps of energy and you've got your whole team supporting you and you've got to support your team as well even during the match.
"I sort of knew a little bit about it but I had no idea how intense it was - especially at the conference finals at the end of the season it's pretty crazy."
Barnett's GWU men's team was led by prominent Launceston coach David Macpherson until his resignation in October.
The team is now coached by former Saint Francis boss Rob Castille.
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