Friday, April 20, 2012

USC Upstate's Brothers Courting a Championship

Ramiro and Gonzalo Blanco were first introduced to the sport of tennis when their grandfather Hector Cambas set up a makeshift tennis court in his backyard. It was there that the brothers – Ramiro, 7, and Gonzalo, 5, – would bounce a tennis ball off of a stone wall in Chascomus, Argentina.

Ramiro and Gonzalo’s grandfather had a passion for tennis and wanted his grandsons to be the best they could at the sport he loved.

It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with tennis. The brothers entered tournaments in Argentina to refine their craft, practicing every morning and afternoon. When Ramiro graduated high school he had some critical decisions to make about his future.

“I finished high school and didn’t know what to do with my life; I wasn’t done with tennis,” Ramiro said. “I also wanted to study, and I thought I could always study in Argentina, but I couldn’t keep playing tennis.”

A friend of Ramiro’s who was a year older than him took a scholarship offer to play tennis in the United States. That’s when the pieces started to fall into place for the then high school senior.

“It’s perfect. You can study and you can play tennis,” Ramiro said. “If you want to study and you want to play tennis I think it is the best option.”

Ramiro’s decision to join the USC Upstate tennis team wasn’t a difficult one. He had met Head Coach Trittenwein in the past and he felt comfortable with him.

A year later, Ramiro came to Coach Trittenwein to speak to him about the possibility of signing his brother Gonzalo.

It didn’t take Trittenwein much time to decide that bringing Gonzalo on was a good idea. For Gonzalo, coming to USC Upstate was an easy decision as well. He said he felt he got along well with his teammates and couldn’t wait to start at USC Upstate.

“It’s a great experience. We are so far away from our family and it makes it much easier,” Gonzalo said about the playing at USC Upstate with his brother.

With Ramiro’s time at USC Upstate coming to a close at the end of the season, there was one thing he couldn’t wait for, the opportunity to play in the conference championship.

“It’s amazing because I have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Ramiro said. “My first three years we had a really good regular season. Every time I couldn’t play in the tournament I would watch and follow it online and think, ‘I really want to be there.’

This year, all that changed when the Spartans became eligible for the conference tournament. The thought of winning USC Upstate’s first-ever match in the postseason was all that was on their minds. However, if they were going to get there, they had to overcome Lipscomb, a team they had lost to earlier in the year, 4-3.

The Spartans went in with a clear head, realizing this was a whole new match. In the regular season match on March 31st, the Spartans lost the doubles point. After losing doubles point in Friday's quarterfinal, the fear of déjà vu began to set in.

“When we lost doubles I thought, ‘No, don’t tell me it is going to happen again.’ I think that the guys worked really hard,” Ramiro said.

A feeling of relief swept over the Spartans after coming back to win four singles matches, downing Lipscomb 4-2.

“It is super special for me and it is really nice that I can do it in my last year," Ramiro said. "I have many friends that studied with me in the past that couldn’t make it. It’s so nice to do it with this team.”

Ramiro and Gonzalo didn’t want to talk about the possibility of winning the tournament saying they are taking it day by day.

However, Trittenwein did have something to say regarding the possibility of another upset.

“I told our guys last night in our team meeting after dinner that if there is one team that I would not want to play against in this tournament it would be us. I feel like we are the dark horse of this tournament, primarily because nobody knows how we are going to be coming out.”


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