Journey to World Deaf Tennis Championships
October 11, 2019
Using Tennis as a Universal Language
Alfredo Galvez picked up a tennis racquet when he was 15 years old, and since then his life has never been the same. Alfredo is a USTA Mid-Atlantic League player, who is also deaf, and uses tennis as a way to communicate with others. As a child, he tried a variety of team sports but was discouraged when his lack of hearing caused miscommunication with his friends. Because of this he started playing tennis and has achieved incredible accomplishments ever since.
Alfredo, currently a 5.0 player who competes locally in Virginia Beach on an Adult 40 & Over 4.5+ league team has represented USTA Mid-Atlantic twice at the League National Championships. Alfredo’s teammates describe him as an enthusiastic and competitive player.
“He can truly do it all,” says teammate Giovanni Donatelli. ADVERTISEMENT “Alfredo came to the U.S. with limited English and needed to learn a new sign language in order to communicate with others, but luckily for Alfredo, he had the language of tennis that translates across borders.”
This year Alfredo will travel a little farther than the National Championships. On October 12, Alfredo will travel to Antalya, Turkey to represent the United States at the World Deaf Tennis Championships. He will play singles and doubles, along with his partner from the USTA SoCal Section.
We were able to catch up with Alfredo before he ventures to Turkey and talked to him about his astonishing tennis journey.
How long have you been playing tennis? How did you get started playing?
Alfredo G: I started playing tennis at 15 years old in Lima, Peru. Growing up I tried my hand at a variety of sports, ranging from team to individual sports. It was always fun to be active and hang out with my friends, but there was a communication barrier. Since I could not hear, I missed some of the calls and plays that were discussed which led me to get down on myself. That is when I turned to tennis. It was the ideal sport because it was just me out on the court and I could decide how to handle my own game. And since I picked up my first racquet, it has changed my life forever.
How long have you been playing USTA League Tennis?
Alfredo G: I started playing Mid-Atlantic Leagues in 2001 after I graduated from Norfolk State University. I thought my tennis days were over post-graduation since I was no longer on a college team. I was looking for ways to stay active and keep practicing, and it wasn’t until a friend suggested USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues that I finally found a way to play again. Since then I have been enjoying tennis continually with my league team.
How would you describe tennis in the Mid-Atlantic community?
Alfredo G: The Mid-Atlantic community is the reason I am still playing tennis. Not only am I able to stay active and physically fit, but I have also made great friends through this community. It is especially great for me because I am from Peru, and English is not my first language, but I am able to socialize and connect with people through the game of tennis.
How do you feel when you are playing tennis?
Alfredo G: Tennis is like my “perfect medicine.” I enjoy playing because it not only makes me feel good, but it is a stress reducer.
What do you like most about tennis?
Alfredo G: One of the best feelings is when I am on the court and attacking the ball at the net. I love to sweat, so playing tennis is my favorite physical activity. I also LOVE to eat - so when I end up burning hundreds of calories on the court, I can go eat my favorite meals.
You are currently ranked as the number 1 deaf tennis player in the nation, how would you describe your journey to get to that level?
Alfredo G: As I said before, I have been playing tennis for 15 years. I grew up in Peru, where I was ranked as the number 1 deaf tennis player in both singles and doubles. Later I enrolled in Norfolk State University and played collegiate tennis at the Division 1 level. Through hard work and a lot of sweat, my journey has led me here.
What does it mean to you to represent the US and compete in the World Deaf Tennis Championships?
Alfredo G: It was not until last year that I became a US Citizen. I am so honored to join the USA Deaf Tennis Team and represent the United States at the World Deaf Tennis Championships. It means a lot to me to get out on the court and give it my best and show the world how great and strong the US Deaf Tennis Team really is.
What are you looking forward to when you face the world's top Deaf tennis players in Turkey?
Alfredo G: I am excited to travel to this great tournament and be able to face these top athletes. I just keep telling myself not to get nervous, just be calm and do your best on focusing on the present game, and leave it all on the court.
Recently, the Mid-Atlantic tennis community came together to support your journey to Turkey, how does that make you feel?
Alfredo G: I am so thankful and lucky to know the Mid-Atlantic community is there to cheer me on! I am grateful to be a part of a community that supports their players' success and tennis journey.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Mid-Atlantic tennis community?
Alfredo G: I want to encourage more people to come out and play tennis. No matter your ability or disability - there is a place for everyone out on the tennis court.
At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we are on a mission to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region for all. We do this by offering after school and summer camp tennis programs, junior tournament scholarships, and deliver grant money to organizations looking to refresh their tennis courts. You can help grow tennis in the community by donating to the Mid-Atlantic today.
We are excited to cheer Alfredo on at the World Deaf Tennis Championships in Turkey from October 12-19. Let’s wish him good luck - and make sure to follow his journey on Facebook.