Editor’s note: In appreciation of the members of the vast Florida tennis community, all throughout April USTA Florida will pay tribute to the high school, collegiate, and club tennis seniors who have seen their respective seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than let achievements and accomplishments both on and off the court be overshadowed by unexpected challenges, USTA Florida has given some of these seniors the chance to share the positives and successes they’ve had.
24-year-old Federico Nani is a senior at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a member of the men’s tennis team. Despite the 2020 season only lasting 10 matches due to the developments surrounding COVID-19, Nani concluded the 2019-20 calendar with a team-high 18 wins across fall and spring competition and posted the most wins for the Ospreys in singles play with a 13-6 record in the fall. Prior to transferring to UNF for his junior and senior seasons, Nani played for the Florida A&M University Rattlers. The Cordoba, Argentina native didn’t speak a word of English when he came to the United States for college, and now he is set to graduate with a Sports Management degree.
How did you get involved in tennis?
My dad used to play tennis when I was young.
What’s your favorite thing about the sport?
I love the mental side of the sport.
What led you to ultimately choose UNF when you were selecting the college you wanted to play at?
I decided to come to play for UNF because I love the campus and it’s near the beach.
Of all your tennis achievements at UNF, both individually and as a member of the team, which was your favorite moment and why?
Making the final of conference and two individual finals in the fall.
What is your favorite memory from your career at UNF?
Starting 8-2 in this season, which was the best start in UNF history.
How has your game developed while playing college tennis?
I became more aggressive and improved my serve over the years.
What is the best part of being on a team?
The friendship you make with your teammates and the possibility of being part of a family fighting for the same goal.
What does tennis mean to you?
Tennis is everything to me, it is such a big part of my life. I’ve been playing tennis my entire life and I’m thankful for the sport that gave me such an opportunity.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
I will use my OPT* to work for a year and then come back to school to get my Master’s.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work towards getting practical training to complement their field of studies.
What are your goals for the future?
I plan to coach tennis for a while and come back to school to keep up with my studies.
What advice would you have for high school tennis players and high school athletes, in general, looking to play collegiate athletics?
Keep practicing and believe on yourself. Try to compete to improve your UTR.