Where I'm Meant To Be

By Pablo Alemany

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I was playing some of the best tennis of my young life. 

I practiced hard and competed in tournaments across Europe. 

I even played in Africa. 

At 17 years old, I was one of the top junior players in Spain, and I was ready to make the jump to the pro circuit.

But then, COVID hit in 2020.

And the pandemic was tough.

I was ‘locked’ in my house for nearly three months and couldn’t practice at all.

And candidly, I lost my edge during those months.

There were no tournaments to play in, and when I finally got back to playing, I just couldn’t get back to the level I was once at.

I was so frustrated, and I’m not going to lie — I was pretty down on myself. 

So, I poured myself into my studies instead – education was always a priority for my family anyways.

With guidance from my mom, I decided to start looking at colleges here in the United States.

And halfway across the world, Memphis offered me the fresh start I needed.

Listening to mom

The plan was always to go pro, but I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore during that time before Memphis.

Week after week, I competed in tournaments, some all the way in Egypt, and I was driving myself to exhaustion.

I went home and just felt really sad.

This wasn’t working.

My mom recommended I take a look at college sports.

I reached out to some coaches and connected with then-head coach Paul Goebel, who retired about a year ago.

I didn’t know much about Memphis at the time, but after talking to the coaches and learning about the program, I knew this was the place for me.

They had a new facility in the works, and I liked the idea of joining a program that was investing in the future.

Besides, the tiger is my favorite animal, and blue is my favorite color. 

Even the little things seemingly fell into place.

With guidance from my mom, I decided to start looking at colleges here in the United States. And halfway across the world, Memphis offered me the fresh start I needed.

Finding my game again

At first, it was challenging to get used to everything here.

Language was definitely an issue.

Even just going to class was confusing, but my teammates and coaches helped me adapt quickly. 

Their support eased my transition.

We are a team that cares about each other, and I was very grateful for their encouragement, especially early on.

Pretty soon, I started to get back to my old self on the tennis court, and I had a great freshman year. I won all 19 of my singles matches, and my game was back to where it needed to be.

I was having the time of my life playing college tennis, and I knew I made the right decision coming to Memphis.

After two years, we got a new head coach, Chris Doerr, and a new assistant coach, Eduardo Mena.

Coach Mena is also from Spain, and he could relate to my story.

He knows I want to be a top 20 college player, and he knows I have what it takes to reach those goals.

I even found some success in doubles here at Memphis, which wasn’t really my main focus back home in Spain.

I teamed up with Charlie Barry this season, and we made it all the way to the NCAA Championships and finished No. 29 in the nation.

I’m going to miss playing with him next year, but I hope I can be a good doubles partner for another teammate, too.

A season to remember

Memphis is where I’m meant to be. 

No doubt.

This past season, I became the first player in Memphis history to earn the AAC Player of the Year award.

I was also only the second player in program history to qualify for both the NCAA singles and doubles championships.

I couldn’t have done any of that without my teammates and coaches.

They pushed me every single day, and I’m so grateful to be a part of a program that helped me get back to where I needed to be — and wanted to be — in my tennis career.

I’m excited to see what my senior year has in store for me, and I can’t wait to get back on the court with my teammates and try to win a conference championship.

We finished 27th in the country as a team, the highest in school history since 2018, and came so close to taking home that conference title.

I know we have what it takes to get the job done.

So, stay tuned, the Tigers will be back.