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#TGW: The Sunny Side of the Street

Oct. 14, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Like most student-athletes that get to their senior year, senior Eduardo Segura can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is his collegiate career.

The light-hearted Spaniard might joke that he hopes that light is not a train, but upon true introspection, he sees it as the first signs of a bright future.

If the fall is any indication, that future will be extremely bright. Segura is 9-1 heading into this weekend’s USTA/ITA Southeast Regional, beginning on Thursday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the University of Georgia campus.

He is soaking up every second of his final year.

“It’s my last year here at Tech so I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and relax and play the game I love,” said the native of Madrid, who will graduate in May. “I’m just trying to focus on my game plan. Focus less on the opponents and just focus on myself. It’s working well so far.”

It worked extremely well in his last visit to the Magill Complex in mid-September for the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, when Segura won his first collegiate title after beating freshman teammate Michael Kay, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4). The win over Kay completed a four-day stretch in which Segura was extended to three sets in taking his first two matches then didn’t drop another set the rest of the way, winning his final nine.

“It was pretty exciting. I started getting confidence after a couple of matches, getting the rhythm after playing like two matches a day plus doubles,” he recalled. “I finished very strong against [Kay] who had a great tournament as well. So I’m very happy for me and for the team because we’re doing very good things during the fall.”

Earning his first career tournament win was satisfying, and while the victory came at the expense of a teammate, Segura still found nothing but positives.

“Having two guys in the finals is very good for each of them and for the team,” he said. “It means that we’re doing the right things during practices and getting what we need to get done to get to those last rounds and finals of the tournaments.

“It was a tough match. [Kay] played really well,” he added. “So I`m very happy for him and happy for myself to be able to pull it out at the end. He will have more chances. He’s a freshman.”

Championship-level tennis is a family tradition for Segura. His grandparents both played professionally, with his grandfather playing on Brazil’s Davis Cup Team in the `60s, and his grandmother starring in Spain, where she won 27 national championships — they even met at Roland Garros, the site of the French Open.

Eduardo credits his grandparents’ influence in his development and his moment-of-truth decision at around age 12 to pursue tennis over soccer. He actually remembers having a racket in his hand as early as four, possibly sooner.

“My grandpa has helped me a lot. I started playing tennis with him when I was little,” he said. “He always comes to matches, my grandma as well. They enjoy watching me play and give me good advice on technique, strategy. So I love hearing from them, what they think about when I play and stuff. I don’t think I would be where I am today without my grandparents.”

He’d like to mentor the talented array of youngsters on the current roster in a similar manner and continue to cultivate Tech’s winning culture.

“The four freshmen we have this year are very, very talented and have very good potential,” he said. “Chris [Eubanks], Mikey [Kay], Elijah [Melendez] and Daniel [Yun], they’re very, very good. They had a lot of success before coming here to Tech, at the junior level. So they’re more than ready to do great things.”

Also included among the youngsters Segura has taken under his wing is sophomore Carlos Benito, his doubles partner and a fellow Madrid native,.

“We knew each other pretty well (in Spain) and last year we started well but we didn’t finish as strong as we wanted to,” said Segura, referring to the duo’s 9-1 start and 12-12 overall record last spring. “This year we’re trying to get into rhythm again and trying to win some important matches. We have a big opportunity to make the National Indoors in New York.”

Ideally, Segura and Benito will hit their stride in time for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships taking place Nov. 7-10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

To help Benito get the most out of himself, Segura has drawn from his experiences as an underclassman and the lessons taught to him by upperclassmen and countrymen.

“I had Juan Melian, (from Las Palmas), that helped me and Guillermo Gomez (from Alicante) was here, too, when I came,” he said. “That helped me a lot. I try to help him.

“The hardest part for me, and I’m sure for Carlos it’s the same, was the language barrier,” he added. “I’m a very extroverted guy, so I like to talk with people. That was hard not being able to do that at the beginning because I feel like I wasn’t being myself. But after, I would say, a semester, I started getting hold of it. Your teammates help you a lot, too. Even though they don’t understand you, they make jokes about it, so it’s not hard on you. With classes, professors try to help you out, was well. So it’s not a hard adjustment you have to make.”

Segura is still extroverted and, quite comfortable in English, recognizes the power and the place of humor over the course of a season.

“Being at Tech is tough mentally and physically,” he said. “Being an individual sport, tennis is very tough mentally and if you don’t have those moments where you are relaxed and loose. You can get very frustrated and burned easily. I try to let my team understand there are times you have to relax and enjoy being here because it’s four years that you’re here and you have to enjoy them as much as you can because you aren’t going to be able to get back to college. So just make sure that you enjoy the moment and understand that to play good tennis they need to be happy off the court as well.”

For him, that sometimes means playing the age card or having it played on him. But he can take it. He just sees the bright side.

“I feel old,” he said, with a laugh. “I’m like five years older or four years older than some of the guys. But when you’re on a team you don’t see those differences much.”

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