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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tennis’ Spanish invasion

    Andres Carrasco
    Andres Carrasco

    Andres Carrasco scores aces on the court and in the classroom.

    Carrasco, a men’s tennis freshman, arrived from Spain last January with limited knowledge of English. Eight months later, Carrasco holds a 3.6 grade-point average and will fight for a top spot on the team.

    Since arriving, Carrasco hasn’t been able to compete due to an NCAA Clearinghouse rule. He’s adapted using a passion for tennis and a persistent work ethic.

    “”A lot of times you train for an event or match in the near future,”” said UA head coach Tad Berkowitz. “”Knowing that he’s had to sit one entire year out, obviously, it’s really frustrating. He’s had a great attitude.””

    The NCAA will allow Carrasco to regain the lost year of eligibility after surpassing the 3.2 GPA minimum. Despite a lack of experience, Berkowitz said he hopes Carrasco will evolve into a top player on the team.

    “”He was a great support for us (last year),”” said senior captain Bruno Alcala. “”He’s going to be a great athlete and he’s looking forward to being on the team.””

    Carrasco follows Alcala, who also arrived from Barcelona, Spain, as a freshman three years ago.

    One visit on campus sold Carrasco and confirmed Alcala’s praise for the program.

    “”We don’t have the facilities like here in the United States,”” Alcala said. “”The first time he came here, he saw the environment and was really excited about it.””

    Carrasco has conquered the language barrier that makes adjusting to a Division I program difficult, Alcala said.

    “”When you don’t speak a language properly, you’re always shy,”” Alcala said. “”He didn’t have that fear. He just wanted to learn and communicate with people.””

    The two trained and competed together in Spain during high school. Alcala recalled well-played three-hour matches every time.

    “”Every time I play him, he’s a fighter,”” Alcala said. “”To have him on our team is great for us. He’s going to give everything he has and fight ’til the end.””

    Because soccer is the only high school sport Spain offers, competition is limited. To play tennis, athletes must balance overlapping schedules of academics and practice at academies.

    “”As a freshman, the first time you play in a team like this, it’s not the same,”” Alcala said. “”It’s a different kind of pressure. It’s a weird feeling.””

    The Wildcats’ preseason training consists of working out and getting in shape for the upcoming season. Arizona’s first fall tournament begins Sept. 15.

    “”I was supporting the team every day with the practice and a good attitude,”” Carrasco said. “”My coach told me that was my role.””

    Carrasco said he hopes to improve on his backhand and approach shot at the net, which will complement his Spanish baseline style.

    “”We just have to believe in ourselves,”” Carrasco said. “”All of them are really good guys. We’re going to be great. I’m sure.””

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