Tennis team features set of brothers
The FGCU men’s tennis team is on the rise. Every year, it gets better. Every year, it inches closer to its goal of being a national champion. The Eagles just recently competed in the 2015 Division I Men’s Championship where they lost in the first round to UCLA. This coming spring, the team would like to compete again.
Two players in particular are vital to the team’s success. Andres and Eduardo Alfonzo are brothers who play on the FGCU men’s tennis team. They were born in Caracas, Venezuela and were raised in Valencia, Venezuela. During their formative years, Venezuela was going through trouble with its president at the time, Hugo Chavez.
“My dad and my mom actually went to some of the protests and everything,” Andres said.
However, the brothers didn’t let the civil unrest dictate their lives. They grew up well rounded; besides tennis, the brothers also played soccer, baseball and basketball. Because of their similar interests, Andres and Eduardo grew up with a close bond.
“I love him,” Andres said. “I get to live with him here in college now, so it is a really good experience. He is a mentor. He is also like a tutor sometimes.”
Eduardo also spoke fondly of his little brother.
“My brother has a great personality,” Eduardo said. “He always likes to have fun. He is never sad, but sometimes, he is very emotional.”
Back in Venezuela, support came from family and friends. The brothers miss them a lot.
“To me, my parents are like another friend,” Eduardo said. “I know I can reach out to them.”
The Alfonzos’ mother and father live in Florida with them, but the majority of their family live back in Venezuela.
Andres says he misses the little things.
“Getting to eat breakfast Sundays or weekends with my grandparents — that’s something I don’t have right here in the United States,” Andres said. “I wish I could have them.”
The civil unrest in Venezuela became unsafe, and the nation’s economy started to fall. Elections went bad, and the streets started to heat up. The brothers’ parents thus made the decision to bring Andres and Eduardo to a better place, so they could have better opportunities. The family always dreamt about moving to America, so they left for the states in 2007 when Eduardo was 14 and Andres was 12.
From there, the family moved to Westin, where they lived for a couple years before their move to Miami. A few years later, they finally settled down in Hollywood. Before the move to Florida, the brothers’ parents scouted the schools to see where their children could get the best education.
While attending Texas Christian University, Andres was recruited to play for the Eagles by FGCU men’s tennis head coach C.J. Weber. It was a smooth process and an opportunity Andres couldn’t let slip past him.
Eduardo formerly went to Barry University, a private Catholic university in Miami, Florida. Barry was a Division II national champion in tennis during his first year at the university, but Eduardo was eventually recruited by Weber as well after his brother Andres put in a good word.
“I reached out to C.J. to see if he had a spot for me, and he said yes,” Eduardo said.
Eduardo’s transfer was not his first time on FGCU’s campus. He played tournaments at FGCU in both is freshman and sophomore years at Barry University.
“Of course you set goals for yourself, but in the end, I just wanted to have fun and help the team in any way I could,” Eduardo said.
Both brothers decided they wanted to play for the same team since they had played their whole lives together. The brothers have gone on to become significant players on the tennis team’s heavily talented roster.
“My role on this team is being one of the enthusiastic guys, bringing the team up with motivation, and I love being a leader,” Andres said.
The brothers made trusted friends and teammates quickly and easily. Andres’ most memorable moment is when his team swept UNF.
“That was amazing and an experience for us,” Andres said. “Maybe two and a half weeks later, we went to conference, and we won. And, that is something I will never forget.”
Weber is an entrusted mentor to the Alfonzos.
“I think that is an important part of the coaching role — that, in my opinion, we should embrace — and it is really important for me to be a very quality teacher of tennis, but in addition to that, a teacher of life,” Weber said.
The future is bright for the FGCU men’s tennis team under the leadership of Weber and key players such as Eduardo and Andres Alfonzo.
“We are building a reputation for men’s tennis,” Eduardo said. “I feel blessed in that sense.”