You are 21 and just graduated. You have a degree in International Relations. Tennis has been your passion. You have stepped into the international circuit but played less than 10 ITF tournaments in five years.
Under these circumstances, not many would make the full-time jump to professional tennis. It would be a fair call too. People make the circuit in their teens. A few have held Grand Slams before 20. By 21, you’ve missed the train. Too late.
Nicolas Moreno De Alboran, however, took that leap of faith.
“Dominican Republic,” says Alboran when asked about his acquaintance with tennis.
In his childhood and teenage across two continents, tennis remained a constant for Alboran.
“I grew up there (Dominican Republic). I had a court five minutes from my house, and (I) used to play there with my friends and parents. And I was playing there for fun. When I moved to London, I started taking it seriously. I was 10–11 years old,” says Alboran.
In England, he was introduced to cricket and rugby as well. But tennis remained the priority, and he got hooked to the sport, in its gruelling, relentless form, when he moved to the United States. In 2015, he enrolled at the University of California’s Santa Barbara. It is where the National Collegiate Athletic Association, commonly known as NCAA, helped him hone his skill.
“It is a great place to play a lot of tennis. It is like living in an academy. You are always with players (at) your level and competing every weekend,” he says.
In the college tennis team, the UCSB Gauchos, Albaron found a home. In 2016, he bagged the Big West Freshman of the Year award. It was only uphill from thereon.
“That’s why going to college helped me because I did not play a lot of tournaments when I was young. I did not play in many junior tournaments. So, going to college was important to play a lot of matches. The competition there is Challenger level,” says Alboran.
The claim NCAA is at par with the Challenger Tour is proven by Alboran, who is looking his part in tournaments. Though it’s his fifth year at the Challenger circuit, Alboran is closing in on the upper echelons.
At Wimbledon 2022, the American fell just short of the main draw, faltering in the third round of qualifying against Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.
On Wednesday, Alboran defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Hsin Tseng, a former ATP top 100 player and Chennai Open’s first seed, in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I respect all my opponents, but believe I can beat anyone. So, I just went into my match, making sure I knew what I had to do,” he says after the win.
The upset came on the back of a Challenger title in Braga in 2022. He even made it to a final last year. “Winning Challengers is always important, especially the first one because it gives you the feeling you can do it. But if you want to make it up to the top 100, just one is not enough in your entire career. You have to win multiple in a year. That’s the goal this year.”
With a maiden entry into the quarterfinals for the year, Alboran will have his sights set on getting the title count for 2023 off the mark in Chennai.
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