John LaRose has coached the Men’s Tennis team at Onondaga Community College for 36 years. His lengthy resume includes 32 All-American players, 11 individual national champions and a team national championship in 2008. His 2019 squad with its four fantastic international players ranks among his best. “We were in Maryland for a tournament and the coach who runs it said ‘this is one of the best teams you’ve ever brought down here.’ We’ve had some years where we’ve come close to winning the title. We should be in the national tournament this year for the 24th time and have a good chance to win it.”
Leading the Lazers are four players who have traveled thousands of miles to come to campus.
- Sebastian Perez is an Exercise Science major from Colombia who plays number first singles and first doubles.
- Jeremy Attrill is an Adolescence Education major from Australia. He plays 2nd singles and 1st
- Ezequiel Martin is an Exercise Science major from Argentina who plays 3rd singles and 2nd
- Mateo Gomez is an Engineering Science major from Ecuador. He plays 4th singles and 2nd
Perez, Attrill and Gomez wound up at OCC after posting videos of themselves playing on the internet which were followed by correspondences with Coach LaRose. Martin was discovered while playing at a winter showcase in Miami.
Tennis was always Perez’s destiny. “I grew up on a tennis court. Because of my dad I got the chance to study, to go to high school, to be in a tennis academy with his team. Then I came to this country and played and lived in different cities.” Perez played at academies in Florida and Boston before coming to OCC.
Like his teammates, Attrill started playing at a young age. “We’ve all played a lot of tournaments and done a lot of training at academies. We have a lot in common even though we speak different languages. We’re very close as a team.”
Although the Central New York climate isn’t what Martin is used to, he learned to embrace the winter. “The first time I saw snow I made snow angels. After that I stayed busy studying. Players in Argentina don’t have the same opportunities to play tennis and study for a career.”
Gomez has felt more comfortable in his new home as the season has progressed. “I feel like I’m improving. I’m getting better. I enjoy being with my teammates. We have all made the same sacrifices to be here.”
“They are all hungry, solid players with great work ethics and wonderful manners,” said Coach LaRose. “They always shake my hand when they leave my office. That’s their culture. They’re very polite.”
Good luck to the OCC Men’s Tennis Team as they conclude the regular season and begin post season play!