Alfonsos: True brotherly love
Dressed in a gray FGCU sweatshirt, junior Eduardo Alfonso woke his brother, Andres, up from a nap. A year ago, the wake-up call would not have been possible.
After a year of competing on Texas Christian University’s men’s tennis team, Andres decided to transfer to Florida Gulf Coast University to be closer to home. Little did he know that the transfer would open up the possibility of going to school with his brother, Eduardo, who was attending Barry University at the time.
“As soon as I knew he was going to transfer, I reached out to coach and asked him if there was space for me, too,” Eduardo said. “Basically it was the only opportunity we had, so I went for it.”
Coach C.J. Weber originally spoke with Andres about a spot on the team, but opened himself up to the idea of bringing on both brothers after he talked to other coaches and did more research on them.
“I knew that both of them were good players and on top of that I heard incredible things about them as young men and about their family and how they represent themselves and their values,” Weber said. “After knowing that information, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to bring them both on.”
Despite being separated for a year, the brothers are finding the transition onto the same team an enjoyable experience.
“I really like it because we can help each other and support each other,” Eduardo said. “Ever since we were very little we liked being with one another and spending time together.”
The two got into tennis at a young age when they were living in Venezuela. Their parents gave them two rackets and they entertained themselves with tennis and other sports.
“The court at our condo was really nice entertainment, but we didn’t take it too seriously,” Andres said. “We were into other sports and liked to play with more friends. Tennis is more one on one so we kind of played it together when we were bored and couldn’t find more people to play soccer or basketball or baseball.”
However, when Eduardo was 12 and Andres was 10, tennis started to take the forefront in their minds. They moved to the United States in 2007 to escape the political turmoil in Venezuela and to improve their games.
“In the beginning it was not easy,” Eduardo said about the move. “I personally missed a lot back home. It is a very different style in the way you live and the way you do everything.”
As they started to take the sport more seriously, rather than forming a competitive relationship, they formed a supportive one.
“My brother is a perfect example of perseverance,” Andres said. “He has always shone it to me and my family. He keeps working and working and he always gets better. That keeps me going.”
The two brothers consider themselves similar but point out that their personalities are different.
“I’m more of an introvert and he is more outgoing,” Eduardo said. “He is louder on the court. I’m more serious, and I would like to say more responsible too,” he said with a laugh.
“I think we fit where he has his personality and I have mine,” Andres said after receiving a joking pat on the back from his brother. “It’s a good combination.”
In terms of playing style, they continue to demonstrate their supportive relationship by pointing out their own strengths but highlighting the other’s strengths as well.
“We are both fighters,” Andres said. “My style is more burning down the other player mentally and physically. I have my weapons and am very consistent. He can be more aggressive than me with his forehand and he is also very smart. He can figure out a match after being down whatever score and pulling it out somehow. That is one of his best skills. He can figure out what to do anytime of the match.”
The comradery between the two transcends to those around them and to the other players on the team.
“Both of them are very positive young men,” Weber said. “They are awesome to be around. The vibe and aurora around them just makes you want to be around them.”
With the fall tennis season underway, the two are looking forward to the spring season to hopefully form a doubles team. For now, the two are enjoying the opportunity to be together again.
“I think it is the best partner you can have,” Andres said. “Your brother.”