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Giordano finds her role

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Alfred University

It’s a hot, and humid, 80 plus degrees ion the campus of Alfred University. The tennis team is taking to the courts on this brutal day in August getting ready for the upcoming season. New comer Alexis Giordano doesn’t really know what to expect.

She played just two years at Lewiston-Porter before taking the first year off in college. What she learned was that this wasn’t high school. In high school you may have practice an hour and hour and half at the most.

Her first practice was five hours with her teammates. A five hour grind on the courts in hot weather. That day Giordano learned a lot about herself. She learned what it was going to take to be a solid collegiate tennis player.

“Switching from high-school competition to collegiate was definitely an intense process. I had only played tennis for two years in high school, and I didn’t play my freshman year of college,” stated Giordano. “When I joined the team sophomore year, I had no idea how intense gameplay was going to be. My first experience on the team at Alfred was a 5-hour day of practice during preseason. I had never practiced with that intensity but I knew I was going to love my new team. While preseason was tiring, and I had never experienced anything like it before, it was the perfect time to bond with my team before settling in for the school year. Preseason is now the time of year I look most forward to.”

Like most athletes Giordano was hard on herself, trying to compare herself to others on the team. But, she had to remember that she had only been playing for a couple of years. It would shave been unfair for Giordano to compare herself to some of the other girls that have been playing longer than she has.

She needed to find her place, her role, on the team. She knew she could compete. It was just making sure that she listened to the people around her. Trust those that know the game, and absorbed everything that was being taught.

Once she did, Giordano started seeing success on the court.

“It took me a while to find my spot on the team. I definitely found myself comparing my talents to those around me. I had less experience than my teammates, so this wasn’t fair to myself. Once I started listening to Coach Crouch when he said I had the talent to succeed, I started seeing myself winning more matches,” stated Giordano. “I’ve never had a coach that believes in me the way he does, and it’s been so important for my growth as a player. I’m able to take his advice and apply it to my game. While I may not see the most success on the court out of all my teammates, I’ve improved so much that I wouldn’t recognize the player I was before Alfred.”

It didn’t take Giordano long to accept that she was a different type of player than most of the girls on the roster. She was going to give you some solid doubles play, and steal you some wins at the six spot at singles.

If you look at her racquet, Giordano has the word trust written on it. It allows her to remind herself that she just needs to have trust, and faith, that she can do it in matches just like she does in practice.

“Once I accepted that I have a different style of playing than other tennis players I started winning more matches. I have “trust” written on my racquet to help remind me that I do the best when I allow myself to play like I do in practice,” stated Giordano. “I know that I have the talent and that I work harder than my opponent, I just have to allow myself to compete like I believe it. Once I wrote this note on my racquet, it became easier to reset my mindset during a match when I need it most. Having a physical reminder of my largest mental battle has helped me push through matches I thought I couldn’t win.”

The fact that Giordano is playing in college is something of a story in itself. She doesn’t have any family members that have played before - and she only joined tennis as a way to spend time with her friends at Lewiston-Porter.

But, now, Giordano has a love affair with the sport. She loves the game, and plays it as mach as she can. This past summer, Giordano was hitting with some high school girls just to get that time in as she was getting ready for her final season at Alfred.

“My love for tennis snuck up on me. I don’t have any close family members that play and I joined my high school team as a way to spend more time with my friends. I never expected to play in college but I fell in love with the game and knew I wasn’t ready to end yet,” stated Giordano. “With tennis there’s always a new technique to learn which keeps me engaged. I have never been an outwardly competitive player, my drive to win comes from wanting to prove to myself that I am a strong athlete. When I step on the court I’m bettering myself for myself. I don’t need any external factors to motivate my work ethic because the only competition is myself.”

Off the court Giordano is a scholar in the classroom. She has been a Saxon scholar athlete and on the dean’s list every year. It just shows the type of drive she has both on and off the court.

Giordano knows when her tennis career is over, she will start the new chapter in her life. Tennis has helped her achieve a lot of things in her life - and she is looking forward to what is coming next.

“Luckily, I have always been a very academically driven person. This helped me keep my focus throughout my competition season. However, my first collegiate tennis season my grades weren’t what I had hoped for. It was the first semester without strict COVID-19 restrictions, and it was my first semester after transferring schools,” stated Giordano. “There was a lot to get used to that fall, and I was more focused on getting comfortable at school. I allowed myself that transition period, but the following semester I challenged myself a little bit more academically and have been since. I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA for the past three semesters and was named to the College Sports Communicators 2022-23 Academic All-District Team. It definitely gets tough during my competition season, but all of my professors have been so supportive. Sometimes juggling academics and athletics means going to every office hour and every tutoring session to make up missed work, but it’s so worth it.”

The one thing that college students have to deal with is the rigors of both academics and athletics. It sometimes can be a lot for a student to have to deal with. In the past couple of years, colleges have made sure to keep track of a students mental health.

Giordano has been lucky that whatever team she has played on that mental health is at the forefront.

“I have been fortunate enough to find teams and coaches that value mental health as much as they do competing. This has played a huge role in my person view of mental health, as I am able to recognize when I need to take some time for myself,” stated Giordano. “I co-founded Alfred Goes Green, a sustainability and environmental club, at Alfred University. Running this club has allowed me to combine my academic and personal interests with my friends. Outside of that, I was able to find a great group of friends through the athletic department that I live with during the school year. Being able to come home to my best friends and eat dinner together or watch a movie at the end of a long day is so refreshing.”

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