By Nick Bernal
University of Colorado senior Camila Belassi may not have been able to participate in varsity tennis this spring due to a torn ACL, but that injury did not prevent Belassi from having a successful career at Colorado.
“It was tough,” Belassi said. “First, I had shoulder problems in the fall but that didn’t keep me from playing. Luckily, it was after the tournaments were over, so it was just a lot of rehab to get ready for the spring season and then I tore my ACL.
That was hard, it wasn’t how I wanted to finish my career here, especially because I was playing my best tennis of my career so far. That’s why it was sad that it had to end that way, but that’s just life.”
Belassi had a very successful career at Colorado, as she ranks seventh in CU history with 61 career doubles victories, and 14th in career wins with 129 (singles and doubles). Belassi was an All-Big 12 doubles selection in 2008 and 2009, including being named the Big 12 Co-No.1 Doubles position champion as a junior (2009). In addition to her accomplishments on the court, she was an outstanding student earning All-Big 12 Academic honors all four years.
Her academic accomplishments may have played a part in her ability to get a summer job teaching tennis at the prestigious Hamptons district of Long Island, N.Y.
“I got set up with this opportunity through my academic advisor Erin Cunningham,” Belassi said. “She has connections there, recommended me to work there and I got in touch with the head of the tennis department at the Hamptons. I met with him and we chatted a bit and everything worked out, so I made it into my summer plans and am really excited to get started.”
Once the summer is over, Belassi will be moving to Ypsilanti, Mich. to continue her coaching career as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University. Knowing she wants to be a tennis coach, Belassi emailed various coaches around the country, with an emphasis in the state of Michigan because her sister, Lucia, is a field hockey coach at the University of Michigan.
“The Eastern Michigan coach emailed me back,” Belassi said. “He said that their whole team is international and since I am international too he thought it would be a good fit. He wanted someone who was not only going to be a coach but a mentor to the girls and immediately told me that I was his top choice and we set everything up for next year.”
One of the reasons that having her sister close by was so important to her, is the fact that she is originally from Paysandú, Uruguay and has been away from her family for the last four years.
“We have been apart for a few years and my family is back home in Uruguay so it will be nice to have someone around,” Belassi said.
“We get along really well and we’re best friends, it’s just nice to have someone close to you around.
“It was hard in the beginning. My English wasn’t very good so I was really shy; it was hard to talk to people and be myself. I think the hardest part was coming to a country where you aren’t very comfortable speaking the language that they speak and I didn’t really know what to expect. It took me about a year to really get comfortable here but once I did I really liked it.”
When asked what stood out about Colorado when she was going through the recruiting process, Belassi explained that she relied heavily on her sister and her sister’s friends because she wasn’t really sure what to expect, having never been to the US prior to arriving in Boulder for college.
“I really had no clue what college meant,” Belassi said. “I just knew that I was going to come here to go to school and play tennis. I wasn’t really sure about the whole system and how it worked. It was basically my sister, who had been at Michigan for two years, and her friends that were telling me what places were worth attending. When I mentioned CU they all said I should go there because it is a really nice place and they knew I’d love it here.”
Belassi is excited to begin her coaching career, and isn’t sure when or if she is planning to return to Uruguay permanently, she’s too focused on everything she has going on in the next year to worry too much about the future.
“I’m not ready to go back home quite yet,” Belassi said. “There is a program that allows me to stay here for another year and work, and that is the program that I am going to be in. It’s only for a year, so next year if I want to stay I have to apply for a work visa or a green card. I’ve thought about going home next year, but I’m not sure yet…I’m pretty open to seeing where next year takes me.”
Looking back on her decision to come to the University of Colorado, Belassi has no regrets.
“It was definitely some of the best four years of my life,” Belassi said. “I have made so many new friends and I grew up so much. I left my home as an 18 year old and I’ve loved every single moment of it, I’m sad that I have to leave but life goes on and it’s time for me to move on.”