Oscar Figueroa, a 21-year-old sophomore, is the only returning player on last years American River College men’s tennis team and has become a main part of this year’s team and the (9-1) conference record.
Most tennis players begin to play the sport at a young age and develop their game in a large time span. Figueroa is actually new to the game of tennis. He started playing his sophomore year at Pioneer High School in Woodland, Calif. with current ARC teammate and friend Alan Toscano.
Figueroa picked up tennis quickly after moving on from his first sport soccer, which he has been playing all of his life. Soccer helped out his game immensely, especially having his grind it out type of style. The conditioning that came with soccer puts him in the shape to go through long grueling matches.
“Grinding it out a lot comes from soccer,” said Figueroa. “Because you just keep running, running, running and I feel I have that mentality of just keeping that extra volley and keep playing and just wait until the other opponent wears down. You wear them down and just keep making it extra hard for them so they miss.”
Figueroa is also a leader on the tennis team both on and off the court. Doubles teammate, freshman Patrick Johnson, believes that Figueroa leads by example.
“Oscar is a great leader; he doesn’t throw his racquet, he’s never cussing, no ball abuse, he’s a great example on court and everyone should look up to him,” said Johnson.
Head coach Bo Jabery-Madison also speaks highly about his player saying, “Who he is on the court is a reflection of who he is off the court. I’d be hard pressed to find someone with better, stronger character and that’s what makes Oscar special,” said Jabery-Madison.
Even though his coach and teammates praise Figueroa for leading by example he remains humble and says, “I don’t see anybody less or above me, it’s just all the same.”
Figueroa is also a standout student in the classroom. He puts academics first and plans on transferring to the University of California Davis to major in civil engineering, something he has wanted since he was a freshman in high school.
According to coach Jabery-Madison, Figueroa is on the radar of Davis’ head coach Daryl Lee for a walk on spot, This is a huge step because a little over a year ago he would not have been on Lee’s radar and shows how much of a competitor Figueroa is. He just doesn’t give up and strives to get better.
“From fall to spring he went from a guy who was probably going to be starting from four to six spot on our team, to a guy who was our standout number one player in a matter of months,” said Jabery-Madison.
Figueroa was recently named all Big Eight Conference, one of five Beaver players to earn that honor this year. That doesn’t satisfy Figueroa, he still wants more and to take that extra step.
“Being all-conference is nice, but there is always that extra step you want to get to and for me that is states this year,” said Figueroa.