By Taylor Wilson
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
After only one year in the United States and into his collegiate career, Texas Tech standout Raony Carvalho has already left his mark on the men’s tennis program.
Recruited by assistant coach Marcelo Ferreira, another native of Brazil, Carvalho is only the second player from Brazil to come to the United States and play for the Red Raiders. Carvalho is very conscious of the opportunity that has been given to him because of his tremendous talent and skills on the tennis court.
“It is a great opportunity for me because in Brazil we don’t have many opportunities,” said the freshman Carvalho. “For me to be able to go to school, get my degree and improve my tennis, I’m very thankful and grateful.”
The first player that came out of Brazil to play for the Red Raiders was Lenoir Ramos. Ramos played for Tech in the spring of 2008, but unfortunately it was his only semester for the team due to his eligibility.
Head coach Tim Siegel said that the program looks forward to the talent that comes out of the country, as there are as few as two joining the Tech tennis program next semester.
“We look to have two, maybe three more Brazilians coming in next semester,” said a hopeful Siegel. “We will have a young team full of freshmen and sophomores, but I think we will have a very talented team.”
This season Carvalho became the first Tech player to win Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors as he was ranked No. 41 nationally in singles and No. 15 in doubles with teammate Christian Rojmar. He added to the honor after being named to both All-Big 12 teams in singles and doubles.
Also on his inaugural list of accolades, Carvalho was named the Rookie Player of the Year for the South Central region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. He posted an overall 26-14 singles record this season, and tabbed an impressive 21-13 doubles mark with Rojmar.
Siegel acknowledges Carvalho’s early success and believes the standout handled the pressure of playing in the No. 1 spot well.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of experience internationally and that really helped him prepare for being at Tech,” Siegel stated. “It’s a tough responsibility playing No. 1 as a freshman, and I think he handled it pretty well.”
It makes perfect sense as to why Siegel and Ferreira recruited the standout to play for the Red Raiders. Carvalho was the No. 1 tennis player in Brazil for 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-and-under. His domination didn’t stop there. Carvalho was the No. 1 tennis player in South America during that time and was ranked in top 10 by the International Tennis Federation for 16- and 18-and-under.
The success as a junior tennis player was no surprise to Carvalho as he realized the game of tennis was something very special to him at an early age.
“I had much success at an early age,” Carvalho said. “I knew it was something I was good at when I began to have success in some tournaments when I was seven or eight years old.”
As one might imagine, leaving your home country to travel overseas to embark on your collegiate career is something that would take time to adapt to. Luckily for Carvalho, he has had a strong support system. He appreciates the great support from his coaches and team to help him establish his lifestyle in Lubbock, and accomplish what he has already at Tech.
“It’s been easy because everybody here is so nice and my teammates and coaches especially, have helped me with tennis and school,” said Carvalho. “I love being here at Texas Tech and my dream is to get a degree from here and hopefully become a professional tennis player.”