Oregon Tennis Fueled By Rovello
By Jenny Affan
Alex Rovello was only a freshman last year. He didn't let his young age or stature - 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds - keep him from flourishing into one of the top players on the Oregon men's tennis team.
His work ethic and competitive attitude allowed him to move into the No. 1 singles as a freshman, a spot he has held on to so far this season. Now barely into his second collegiate season, Rovello has helped the team climb up to the 68th position in the rankings. Rovello's transition from being the new guy on the block to an experienced collegiate player has been quite a fulfilling journey thus far.
"Playing number one as a freshman, I learned a lot about how to compete my hardest, especially through the coaching," Rovello said. "I think now as a sophomore, I finally have the match experience of playing that position and I can't make an excuse anymore more of being the young person. Experience is what really helped me this year."
With that experience comes more responsibility. Rovello has a lot upon his shoulders holding the team's No. 1 singles spot. How he handles that as only a sophomore shows that his mentality doesn't reflect his age.
"The main thing is just remembering who you are even if you are on a losing streak," he said. "Last year, I hit a little of a road bump when I hit the Pac-10 season, but I knew that by losing I was going to eventually learn what it takes to beat those top players. I feel like I've fixed a lot of the things I had issues with last year."
Rovello's natural talents as a tennis player are obvious, but his head coach Nils Schyllander believes he embodies something else as well.
"He is probably one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around. It comes very natural for him," Schyllander said. "I think he has that something you can't teach, he has the fire that some people just have."
A fire is exactly what Alex personifies. To watch Rovello play is to feel his competitive nature. While on the court, his passion to win exudes through his expressions and his love of the game is nothing but apparent. He tries his best to not let his emotions get the best of him and knows the importance of staying grounded while playing a match.
"I try to use my emotions in a positive way and not negatively. My parents taught me that the negative can really affect your play, " Alex said. "The people around me, especially playing next to me, really get me going because they want to win just as bad as I do. Winning against Idaho last week was a big moment for our season. They were ranked and it was a big opportunity for us."
Despite all the success in the season so far, Rovello still sees room for individual improvement. He explained that he must utilize his voice and be a more active leader for his team.
"I'm more of a person who doesn't want to say anything that comes across the wrong way and I'm kind of shy in that aspect," he said. "My coaches always tell me that if I want to help lead this team, you have to voice your opinion and get everyone going."
Rovello is currently a combined 8-0 thus far in doubles and singles. His ability to perform at such a high level consistently is impressive and proved to be enthralling to witness. His overall goal for this season is to make the NCAA Tournament.
"That hasn't happened here in a long time and I think we have a team that believes that we can do it," Rovello said. "I think last year we had some pieces, but now we're all on the same page. We are all doing the things outside of the court we need to do to be successful. Individually, I'll do as much as I can for the team to win."
Photo courtesy: Geoff Thurner