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Joining the men's tennis team and becoming a dual-sport athlete

Posted on 6/9/2021 11:38:42 PM by Ryan Calderaro

I never really expected to be a dual-sport athlete in college, but opportunities at Cabrini lined up perfectly and allowed me to have this unique experience that not many other people get. 

I play for both the men’s golf team and men’s tennis team here at Cabrini. I became a part of the golf team immediately coming into college, as I played in high school all four years (1 year on junior varsity and 3 on varsity), even being named co-captain my senior year at Cardinal O’Hara High School. Tennis was something I didn’t start playing until much later in my high school career. I joined the team my senior year with no experience and played on junior varsity. At the time, I certainly wasn’t a stand-out player, having come in with little tennis knowledge but a lot of curiosity. I enjoyed the season, and by the end of the year, I was more experienced than I had been, but certainly very far from calling myself a “good” player.

After that, I put the tennis racket down going into college, only picking it up to play casually here and there with friends. That is, until February 2021. One night, my friend on the team sent me a text saying that the tennis team was looking for one more player, and him being one of the friends I’d casually play with, asked if I was interested in playing for the team. My exact words? “Heck, yea I want to play!” And so, my college tennis career was born. 

There was just one problem: I hadn’t played tennis competitively in three years. And even back then, I wasn’t very good. We had a lot of work to do. Luckily, this is where my teammates and coaches came in. Practices started in March, meaning I had about a month and a half until we’d be facing another team. In that month and a half, I learned why the Cabrini men’s tennis team had won the conference championship the past several years in a row. They were making shots spin, their serves were coming in like fireballs over the net, and a couple of them were placing shots that I couldn’t even reach in time. It was a wild adjustment, let me tell you. 

That adjustment is exactly what sharpened me into the player I am now. Every ball that I hit out, every serve that I couldn’t return, every shot that came so fast I could barely react- each one made me a little bit better. Combined with the coaching I received from our head and assistant coaches (who were luckily willing to work with someone with minimal experience), I was match-ready when the time came. 

I played in three out of the six matches this season, including the championship (Covid took me out of play for the first 2 matches, and I won another by forfeit.) As the player who just restarted his tennis career the very same year, I can proudly say that I won every match that I played in and helped my team in our undefeated season and 2021 AEC championship win. 

I am absolutely thrilled to represent both of my teams going into my senior year of college. Great teammates and coaches surround me on both of these teams, and our successes certainly wouldn’t have been possible without all of them. I am grateful that I can be a part of this and so thankful that I have such a unique opportunity that very few others have. It’s not lost on me how special this is. I am ecstatic to go into my senior year of college and give it my all. 

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I think this story pretty much encompasses my experience at Cabrini so far. Opportunity. I think if I had to choose a few words to describe my journey here, “opportunity” would have to be one of them. Like I said, not many others get the chance to be a dual-sport athlete on two championship-winning teams- or any of the other incredible opportunities I’ve gotten. I’ll save that entire list for a blog at the end of my senior year. ;)