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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Carrasco’s fire fueling ‘Cats ascension

    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Colin Darland
    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

    To think he could have picked soccer instead.

    At the age of eleven, Andres Carrasco was forced to choose between tennis and soccer as the sport in which he would continue. Carrasco, a native of Spain who excelled at both sports, elected to focus his attention on his tennis game, a decision that shaped his life, bringing him to Tucson to compete in Pacific 10 Conference tennis. This Arizona sophomore explained the reason behind his decision was primarily family-based.

    “”I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old,”” he said. “”My brother was a tennis pro, and my father wanted me to play tennis too.””

    Although he chose tennis, Carrasco added, “”I love soccer. It’s something that if I ever have a daughter or a son, I want them to play soccer.””

    Carrasco arrived at the University of Arizona in January of 2007, speaking only a little English.

    “”I think he showed up in the United States two years ago, just him and his backpack, and didn’t really know what was going on,”” said UA head coach Tad Berkowitz. “”He could barely speak a word of English and his first semester here he got a 3.8 GPA.””

    Carrasco’s appreciation for his sport is very much intertwined with the enjoyment he gets from being involved with his team.

    “”I love when I see a fire, everyone is fired up, believing in each other,”” he said. “”That’s what I like the most about tennis. The excitement. The competition. The tense moments. The pressure moments.

    “”On one match I listened (to) my teammate Jason Zafiros scream, ‘Vamos,’ from 500 feet away of my court,”” Carrasco added. “”Like an authentic warrior and I thought, ‘This is amazing.'””

    Teammate Jay Goldman described Carrasco as a “”go-to guy on the team,”” adding, “”He’s a very well-rounded student athlete. He always gets out there and fights hard.””

    His allegiance to the team extends to his pre-match mentality. Before he competes, individual scores and statistics are far from his mind and his coaches can tell.

    “”He wants the team to win so bad,”” Berkowitz said. “”He was part of the team a couple years ago where we were unranked and he was part of that first initial recruiting class that really got our program where it is now. He kind of got a taste for what it’s like to struggle as a team, and now our team is having success and he takes a lot of pride in that. He’s got a lot to do with that success.

    “”He’s one of those guys who if one of the teammates has a problem, they can talk to him. They feel like they can come to him for anything,”” Berkowitz added. “”He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s a funny guy. He keeps the guys loose, keeps the guys relaxed. He’s a very personable guy, and he can get along with anybody, no matter what type of personality they have.””

    Carrasco has gained recognition throughout the season not only from Berkowitz and teammates, but nationally as well. In the highly competitive Pac-10, Carrasco was named Pac-10 Player of the Week Feb. 16-22. But he doesn’t let that stop him from striving to do even better.

    “”It’s motivation for me. I’m getting my game back, and it’s extra motivation to play these matches that are really tough. It means a lot,”” he said. “”Especially after knowing that my teammate and friend Andres Arango was Pac-10 Player of the Week.””

    “”I can also take it as motivation for the team,”” he added. “”Two players nominated Pac-10 Players of the Week in a month means we are all doing the right thing and following a positive path that can lead us to reach our goals for this season.””

    Carrasco also indicated that he would always like to keep tennis in his life in some capacity.

    “”I would like to try to go pro,”” he said. “”If I cannot, I would like to own a club, maybe teaching tennis to kids. I would like to be involved in tennis, yes … but it’s something that I don’t really know yet.””

    However, if his past is any indication of how things could turn out in the future, then Carrasco should be well on his way to reaching his goals. Things weren’t running as smoothly for the Wildcat tennis program upon Carrasco’s arrival to Tucson, but he kept working hard to get better. As long as he continues that trend, nothing should stop him.

    “”He’s a very fiery, intense guy,”” Berkowitz said. “”He plays with a lot of emotions, a lot of energy, a lot of passion. There’s no question (about his work ethic). You don’t have to worry for a second that he’s going to give 100 percent. He works his butt off out there all the time.””

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