Article by: Maia Paterno
Photography by: Sienna Hagedorn
With IASAS Tennis rapidly approaching, we take a look at one of our star players as they prepare to defend ISM’s gold medal. Stefan Suarez is a current junior who has been on the IASAS team since entering high school. But not only has Stefan been killing it against our five other rival schools but he’s been competing on an international level, being nationally ranked in the Philippines.
Whether you play for your country or your school, every athlete has a training regimen that needs to be followed closely in order to come out on top. Stefan shares that his training three times a week consists of mixes of cardio and tennis thus it is called ‘cardio tennis’, and on other days play match or game situations. But when he isn’t practicing with his school team, Stefan plays as often as he can to practice for national and international competition.
Many of us wonder what it is like to compete at such an elite level like Stefan, and we wonder how much international competition is like IASAS, as for many of us that’s the highest level of competition we can reach. But being nationally ranked comes more pressure and expectations, as Stefan explains that the unspoken expectations are very much there, and it’s often that every time he plays an
unranked or more unknown player, he is expected to win. This pressure, he says, is always in the back of his head whenever he is in that situation. Stefan, however, notes that international competition and IASAS are quite similar because he is unfamiliar with the competition, but the biggest difference would be that IASAS makes tennis a team competition, something Stefan admits to thoroughly enjoying as he is usually in an “isolated mind frame wherein [he’s] forced to only rely on [himself]” and this different aspect of IASAS tennis just makes the experience all the better.
Having last three (boys) and four (girls) gold medals at IASAS, ISM stands with a target on their backs for the upcoming three-day tournament, but Stefan says our Bearcats have been preparing themselves for the competition, “it’s all about giving it our all and practicing hard for it because that is all we can control.” We’ll just have to see how our team faces up against the other IASAS schools, as there is a saying in tennis, one that embodies Stefan’s favorite aspect of the sport– the unpredictability, that the ball is round, and so anything could happen.