With the 2018 fall tennis season coming to an end last week, the action is not quite over for Northwest sophomore Franco Olivia, who captured the ITA Singles Championship in Oklahoma City Sept. 30.
Olivia, who was unseeded going into the ITA tournament, rode an incredible hot streak to victory, becoming Northwest’s first ITA crown since 2014. The win not only solidified Olivia as an ITA champion, but also qualified him for the prestigious National Small College Tournament (ITA Cup) in Rome, Georgia, which consists of the best from NCAA Division II, III, NAIA and NJCAA.
Olivia is the first Northwest player to have this opportunity since 2014, when Romain Boissinot captured the ITA championship for the Bearcats. Northwest coach Mark Rosewell says he feels confident that Olivia can perform well in Rome.
“These are the best players in the country in Division II, but we feel like he’s got a good draw,” Rosewell said. “We’re hoping he can play well like he did in the ITA Tournament.”
Olivia said he feels good about his chances as well and will be leaning on Boissinot and others for advice and support.
“I feel good; I saw the drawing. I’ll be playing with No. 4 in the draw,” Olivia said. “He (Boissinot) gave me some advice, and some other guys I met in the ITA’s, they gave me some advice.”
After winning the ITA’s, Olivia said he is no longer feeling any pressure. Competing with the best of the best in the ITA Cup, he said he simply wants to have fun.
“I’m happy with what I did,” Olivia said. “I just go to have fun and give the best that I can.”
Olivia’s teammate, roommate and fellow Argentinian, sophomore Augustin Velasco, said it is a family affair, even though the team will not be joining Olivia on the trip to Georgia.
“This is what tennis is about,” Velasco said. “That’s the cool thing about playing tennis in college and here at Northwest. I think that family and teammates support each other are principle things here.”
Another of Olivia’s teammates, freshman Fabien Calloud, said watching the ITA championship match and seeing Olivia win gave him a better feel for what college tennis was all about.
“It was amazing. It was a good experience,” Calloud said. “I really experienced a college match. We were all behind him (Olivia), we were all screaming, cheering for him, he played amazing. I hope he does really well. We’re all rooting for him.”
Olivia will open the ITA Cup against No. 4 seed Chase Bartlett of St. Edwards University, at 11 a.m. Oct. 11 at the Rome Tennis Center.