Senior puts cap on four year tenure; Ponders legacy, future, and the road ahead
Albert Ochagavia’s college tennis career has come to an end. The senior men’s tennis star and native Spaniard saw his number five seed Old Dominion Monarchs fall to fellow five seed Southern Methodist Mustangs 4-0 last Friday afternoon at the Conference USA championships.
The man commonly known as “Ocha” teamed with Jonas Kuwert in doubles, but lost to Gaston Cuadranti and Alex Sanders 8-3. Ochagavia also dropped a match in singles to Cuadranti in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.
Despite those losses, his career is not defined by them. Instead, he’ll be remembered for his 50 singles and 40 doubles victories on the tennis court. Although he’s happy his individual accomplishments and accomplishments to the program have contributed to the team’s success. At times during his tenure here, Ochagavia’s hunger for the game always pushed him to want even more, for both himself and the guys in the locker room.
“As always, that’s sports, I’m very happy I got all those wins and I helped [the program] with not just my record but the school record. But as an athlete, you always want more,” Ochagavia said. You’ve got 50 [and] wonder, ‘why I didn’t get 60.’ But I would make the same question if I would get 60 I would be like, ‘why didn’t I get 70?” So, you’re in that sport where you’re never happy enough.”
During the final regular season match of the year, the senior was honored in a pre-match ceremony honoring his tenure with the team. Ochagavia and the team took that contest in a 4-3 victory over James Madison. And he explains how the whole experience felt really special to him.
“I don’t think I’m still aware of it. I’ve seen the pictures and I’m like, ‘is that really me? Did it really go that fast? That’s not fair, you know.”
He still remembers like it was yesterday how they came to pick him up at the airport his first time. And that’s been more than three years ago. Fast forward to today and he feels right at home.
“I’ve been feeling like a family here and I guess it made it so easy [to watch] time just go by. And I was so happy we had such a nice ceremony and they [the coaching staff] took their time, not just the coaches but all the team members,” he said. “They actually gave us some recognition, because at the end of the day we’re all family and we that [connection]. And that’s very nice to come out on our last home game and get some credit for it.”
Ochagavia feels like that it was a crowning achievement to his collegiate career. He never thought of it in that way, but he did afterwards. He never thought that day would come and wish he had four more years of eligibility but does not.
Nonetheless, he’ll be receiving his mechanical engineering degree this year. But for the Lleida, Spain native, the future is a bit tilted upward towards the clouds.
“I feel like I’m young and I love traveling. And I know that I always have home in Spain, so I know I can always go back. But I definitely don’t mind staying [here] in the US or maybe going to whatever job takes me,” Ochagavia said. “I don’t mind going to Germany, Brazil, or Australia. I really want to see the world and I want to use my degree to get a job to achieve that. So yes but soon [in less than a year] I should get my degree so let’s see.”
He admits to definitely missing home and missing his sibling.
“Home, that’s a big one yeah of course. I have my sister, which I miss a lot, my parents, all my family. But they kind of make it easy because they share my excitement with me and are proud of what I’m doing,” he said. “So that makes it very easy.”
The men’s tennis team has a lot of fun, both on and off the court. And they’re energy and excitement translates to the crowd in attendance at Folkes Stevens Court. Ochagavia spoke of the fun times he’ll remember as a player here, specifically one of his coach’s particularly favorite choice of attire.
“Usually I’m the one making the jokes, which is not good because I’m usually the only one laughing. But definitely coach B [Volunteer Assistant Coach John Brinkman]. Sometimes when times are rough, he always shows up with that weird hat or glasses. He just loves that kind of attention and it just makes it very funny because he keeps changing them,” Ochagavia said.
“Every time we see him, we always have a big smile on our face. And that happens a lot [during] rough times and things not going the way you’d like [them] to,” he said. “He’s always with some hat or weird glasses, which I believe he steals from his wife.”
When a senior leaves and when all is said and done in their career, they are left with a lasting college legacy. Ochagavia commented on how he would like to be remembered here in Monarch nation.
“Definitely as a hard worker. A person that is very passionate about tennis. That loves it and doesn’t matter how long it takes to improve and get better. Maybe I had way too many injuries and always had that desire to go back and fix whatever was wrong. And that’s how I would like to be remembered as someone that knows, ‘this is what I want’ and I fought as hard as I could to give it.”
By. Brian Jerry