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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bon voyage seniors

    UA senior Claudio Christen prepares to backhand the ball in a match against UCLA at the Robson Tennis Center on April 11. Christen is one of four departing seniors on the UA mens tennis team.
    UA senior Claudio Christen prepares to backhand the ball in a match against UCLA at the Robson Tennis Center on April 11. Christen is one of four departing seniors on the UA men’s tennis team.

    The Arizona tennis teams cast aside a relatively rough season as the spring semester wraps up and look to prepare for next season on a clean slate. Some players, however, won’t have the luxury of contributing.

    The women’s team (7-17 season record) will keep all of its players and will only add on to last year’s roster, but the men’s team (11-11) will lose four valuable seniors – Claudio Christen, Bruno Alcala, Nathan Cochrane and Peter Zimmer.

    Excitement. Sadness. Relief. Uncertainty. Saying goodbye to the university, team, players and friends brings a multitude of emotions to the seniors.

    “”It’s sad, because I used to see the guys all the time,”” said Christen, who last played in the Pacific 10 Conference doubles play in Ojai, Calif., on April 26. “”And since I’ve been done playing I don’t see them as much.””

    The seniors have similar feelings in saying goodbye to the program, but one is more specific.

    “”I’m going to miss the camaraderie of the team and going through something together as a team. But I’m also going to miss having the contact with my international friends,”” Zimmer said of the five UA men’s players from other countries. “”I’ll be around so I’ll get to see the coaches and teammates who are still playing. But some of the guys may end up going back to their homes in other countries, so I won’t be able to get to hang out with them very often. I’ll keep up with all my teammates hopefully for the rest of my life, though.””

    Cochrane put it in its simplest form when he said, “”I’ve gotten 10 best friends out of this experience.””

    It’s hard for the seniors to think of anything negative about playing at Arizona, but there were definitely a few things that stood out to them that they would have no problem saying “”bon voyage”” to.

    “”Lunges,”” Cochrane said without hesitation. “”I did my last lunges two weeks ago and I’m happy about it. I think the team’s going to agree with me on that one.””

    Working out may remain as a part of the players’ lifestyles but the intense level of working out at a collegiate level will not be missed.

    “”I have no problem with practicing at (2 p.m.) every day or waking up early to play tennis, but maybe my body is going to appreciate that I’m not going to be pushing it so hard anymore,”” Alcala said.

    While the Wildcats are thinking about their competition for next year’s matches, the seniors face competition in the world of business, responsibilities and life in general.

    Cochrane is moving back to Phoenix this summer and will begin working as a stockbroker for Vanguard, a mutual funds trading company. He landed the spot after going to a career fair a few weeks ago. Looking 10 years into the future, though, he has bigger plans.

    “”It’s hard to say, but I can see myself living in Phoenix, moving up the corporate ladder,”” said Cochrane, a Glendale native. “”Maybe a funds manager by then? That would be a little quick for it to happen but cool if it did.””

    Alcala plans to go home to Spain for the summer and play in tournaments with winning prizes as great as $2,000.

    “”I’m going to try to enjoy tennis for the last time in my life,”” he said. “”After that, I’m going to call it a career.””

    Even though he’s going to stop playing at the competitive level, Alcala still sees green fuzz in his future.

    “”I always try to picture myself doing something related to tennis and sports,”” he said. “”My biggest fear is doing something I don’t like. Even if I don’t make the most money, or I’m teaching eight hours a day, I just want to find something I enjoy doing.””

    Christen has tennis in his summer plans, along with a balanced schedule of work and fun. He’s going back home to Switzerland on May 25, he said.

    “”I’m playing for two club tennis teams and I’ll be working a part-time job for the European soccer championships in Switzerland,”” Christen said. “”A bunch of people are going to come visit me, too. I’m pretty much just going to enjoy myself, play tennis and travel with friends this summer.””

    Down the road, Christen has an idea of where he will be, but allows room for spontaneity.

    “”I’d like to get a job in the U.S. for a year. After that, it all depends on if still like it here or if I have a girlfriend,”” Christen said. “”But I could see myself working and staying here for a while, so it’s kind of up in the air. In 10 years, I see myself having a wife and kids, and working in the events industry.””

    Zimmer has a wife, Carrie, but no kids. They will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on June 16. In addition to the summer romance, Zimmer – who will graduate with a year of eligibility left because he redshirted his freshman year – will remain in Tucson and work as a house manager at Respite Care, where he will mentor and spend time with behavioral health kids.

    The time spent at Arizona playing tennis has given the seniors some valuable tools. They already have the dedication, hard work and commitment it takes to be successful in life.

    Down the road, each player will look back on his time at Arizona and have that one memory that sticks out above all. It may cause laughter in memory of a night out with the team; goose bumps, in reminiscence of a his match-clinching victory; or an international phone call, in request for a best man at his wedding.

    “”Tennis was really important for me,”” Alcala said. “”I always had teammates by my side, pushing me to give it my all. A lot of people in the world can’t do that and work hard for you at the same time. So I learned that, even in the tough times, I have to give it a hundred percent. That’s all anyone can give.””

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