The game of tennis has stretched across the world for Andrew Muttiah.
It first began in Sri Lanka, and now takes place in Salem, Massachusetts where he is one of two captains for the Salem State Vikings.
Last season, Muttiah posted an 8-3 record at first singles and was named to the Little East Conference First-Team. He also recorded a 7-1 record at the top doubles position and earned another First-Team selection.
He and his doubles partner walked away with the best record in the Little East.
His partner was none other than one of his current coaches and standout Vikings’ tennis player, Chen Chen. The two were roommates at Salem State as well.
“Playing doubles with him was joyful and our chemistry was 200% since we were also roommates,” Chen said. “We don’t need to say much to each other during matches, because we both hate to lose, and we always find a way to win together. Earning first-team selection last year was an honor and the best memory between us.”
But before taking the court with Chen, Muttiah was taking the court in Sri Lanka at five years old.
He was born in Queens, New York, but at the age of one, he and his family moved to Colombo, Sri Lanka. His father played recreational tennis while attending the University of Hartford in Connecticut, and when he was five, his school had a mini tennis team which was recruiting new players. That was the start of his tennis career and following in his father’s footsteps.
“Tennis is my life. It means everything to me because I have been playing it for 15 years now and that is the only sport I dedicated myself to,” Muttiah said. “Tennis has always been a part of my life all throughout my time in Sri Lanka, and now here in the US.”
Muttiah played competitive tennis in Sri Lanka starting from the Under 10-year category, going all the way to the Under 18-year category. He was always ranked in the top 4 of each age group he played in.
In 2013, he was selected to represent Sri Lanka by playing for the Sri Lankan junior Davis Cup team. He traveled to Vietnam and Malaysia with two teammates and a coach and played second singles.
Then in 2014, he attended a tennis camp in Thailand led by Dominic Utzinger, who was a former professional tennis player from Switzerland and was an early mentor of Roger Federer.
“That camp helped me develop my game better and take tennis to another level,” Muttiah said.
Two years later, in the summer of 2016, he first came back to America three weeks after his high school graduation and was looking for colleges in Massachusetts with a good tennis team.
When Muttiah moved to the United States, he had a tough time adjusting as he had no friends or connections in the country outside of his aunt and uncle in the South Shore of Massachusetts.
“Moving here was tough because everything was brand new to me. They helped me with the transition and made it easier for me,” Muttiah said. “I lived at their house for about two months when I first got here. Moving here was an experience because I was able to learn new things and meet new people.”
In the Fall of 2017, he began his career at Salem State.
Muttiah went undefeated (5-0) in LEC play for the Little East Tournament champions at No. 1 singles during his first year. He also was 4-1 at No. 1 doubles alongside former teammate John Didonato.
Overall, he went 12-4 in singles play and 11-5 in doubles. He was named a First-Team All-LEC selection in singles and doubles play. He also was named LEC Player and Rookie of the Year.
He was the first Salem State player ever to be named LEC Player or Rookie of the Year.
“Being on the same team with Andy, I was blessed. He stepped right in for the Salem State tennis team as a freshman and showed the conference that he is the best tennis player,” Chen said. “He is the main reason we won the conference.”
Muttiah and his team claimed the LEC Championship title in a 5-1 win over UMass Boston, where he was named Tournament MVP. It was the first time that Salem State had won the title since 2008.
“When I joined Salem State, I knew we were going to have a great season. And thanks to coach Tim and my teammates, we were able to win the championship that Spring,” Muttiah said. “Bringing back the championship trophy to SSU after 10 years was a big deal for me as a freshman.”
The following year, Muttiah and Chen led the Vikings back to the conference championship but fell this time to UMass Boston.
Then for this season, Chen was named to the coaching staff and took on a different role for the Vikings and gained a new perspective on Muttiah.
“Coaching him is an easy job and I am very happy to able to watch him grow as not only a player, but also as a leader,” Chen said. “It is going to be a great new chapter for us.”
But before the season could get underway, the coronavirus outbreak cancelled it all. Luckily, Muttiah is only a junior, so he will be coming back for another year of play.
“We are going to win the championship back next year,” Muttiah said. “We are currently tied at 1-1 with UMass Boston right now, and it will be my senior year at SSU, so I would like to make it my best year and finish off with a conference championship. It will be tough not having Noah and Mitch next year, but we have a great team, and I know that Roni, Moses, Johnson, Cory and Arman all have great games and can help the team win.”