For the USF men’s tennis team, the season ended May 11 with a loss to Florida on a rainy afternoon, delaying the match nearly three hours and pushing play indoors. But for sophomore Roberto Cid, the season will go on.
He is a sophomore by eligibility due to playing professionally for a year, but in his first collegiate season, the 20-year-old is already making his mark as a Bull.
Last Tuesday afternoon, Cid, already Conference Player of the Year, learned he also won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rookie of the Year award for the southeast region.
“In his first year, it’s incredible to do everything he’s done,” coach Matt Hill said. “If you think about it, it’s not only his first year, but he didn’t play in the fall. He only started playing college tennis five months ago.”
Being ranked No. 47 in the ITA rankings for individual players in the country is something Cid takes pride in, but said he doesn’t put too much energy into worrying about it.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Cid said. “I just try to focus on my matches, but definitely I’m trying to be in the top of the nation.”
Cid began playing tennis in the Dominican Republic when he was only 4 years old. He said that is where his love for the game began, as he often played with his father for fun.
“My dad used to play, so when I was little, he took me to the club where he used to play and that’s when everything started,” Cid said.
Moving here when he was 13, Cid said he believes the U.S. offers more opportunities to better himself as a player.
“From the professional prospective, I think here is definitely more intense, there are more players,” Cid said. “You can improve more here.”
When it came time to choose a college, USF was the perfect fit for Cid. He visited other schools, but he said they couldn’t compare to what USF offered.
“I knew that at one point, this will be a great program and they are building it,” Cid said. “I wanted to be a part of this so I chose USF without a doubt.”
Though the awards show the 6-foot-3 rookie has talent, Hill said Cid’s work ethic is what helps him elevate his game to the next level.
“It sounds stupid, but most athletes I’ve worked with over the last nine years come to practice and train, but there are a few that are special that come to practice every day and are killing it, really giving everything they have,” Hill said. “The hard work and discipline that he puts in on a daily basis is what separates him from some of the other guys on the team.”
This work ethic has prepared Cid for the NCAA Singles Championship this week.
Hill said Cid’s experience with high-level talent throughout the season, coupled with his ability to thrive in pressure situations, sets him up for a good chance at success heading into the tournament.
“He’s proven this year that he can perform with those players,” he said. “He’s not going to be nervous or scared playing these guys. We’ve scheduled the best teams so he’s seen these guys already. This is a guy that’s beating top team’s number ones handily.”
When Cid steps onto the court on Wednesday, he’ll be one step closer to attaining his dream of winning the NCAA Singles Championship.
“It’s my ultimate goal to win the championship,” Cid said. “That’s always going to be my goal.”
The NCAA Singles Championship takes place from Wednesday until next Monday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.