Ever since he was five, Borja Cortes had a tennis racket in his hand. As sweat dripped down his face from the heat in his homeland of Barcelona, Spain, he fell in love with the graceful game of tennis.
He never played on a concrete-surface court, but opted for the famous red clay courts in Spain. However, since coming to the United States, he has made a great adjustment to the courts. Juan Nunez, graduate assistant coach, grew up playing tennis in Mexico and was once in the top 50 of Mexico’s pro rankings. Not surprisingly, he had heard of the rising tennis star in Barcelona.
Nunez sought out Cortes because of his top-tier ranking in Spain. Cortes, who achieved the No. 154 national ranking spot for men’s singles in Spain, heard of Nunez’s interest and decided to take the opportunity to play in the states when he was recruited.
“I was offered to leave Barcelona for the States when I was just eighteen, but at that time I did not want to leave my family, friends and the culture I grew up in here in Spain,” Cortes said. “I regret that decision because not only did I want to represent the Abilene Christian tennis team, but I also wanted to come here for their engineering and physics program.”
Cortes has represented the team well since coming to ACU three years ago, sharing a spot at No. 3 in the nation in doubles, and earning his All-American status last season. The team has played in three tournaments thus far. Cortes excelled at the New Mexico State tournament, placing third. In the team’s last tournament, a fellow ACU tennis player, Nicklas Wingord and Cortes played three difficult matches, winning each one to give the team an all-Wildcat final.
Though his play was limited last spring because of a broken wrist, Cortes’ competitive drive helped him win against the No. 24 Midwestern State single player Kacper Boborykin in last year’s LSC Championships tournament. Cortes found his heart for the game through both his grandfather and mother, who played tennis for most of their lives.
“I grew up with courts around me, a racket given to me at a young age by my grandfather and parents who supported me in everything I had done as a child,” Cortes said. “I have loved this game for a very long time and I will always play it, until my body cannot take its demands”
Cortes’ success has given him the ambitious attitude he displays on the court.
“I think my coaches would say I am a competitive player looking to win every match I come into, especially when I am the underdog,” Cortes said. “I consider myself a pretty good athlete on the court and I am capable of my abilities, but one thing I like about my coach is his understanding of doing my best and not winning is okay.”
In Spain, his coaches were disappointed in him if he lost, but here at ACU, they encourage every player to perform at their best level. If the players lose, they know how to make them mature as players and show them what they could do better.
ACU’s athletic department and their coaches always make sure the student-athletes’ education comes first. Cortes’ biggest reason for coming to the small town of Abilene was the opportunity he had to succeed in ACU’s engineering and physics program.
“They are supportive and my teammates are united like a family,” Cortes said. “I regret not coming to this place and representing this school when I was eighteen, but I am happy to receive another opportunity six years later.”
Cortes and the rest of the ACU tennis team look to compete well in regionals this fall at Baylor University against some tough Big 12 Conference teams.
“I am very excited to play my last season as a Wildcat and I hope to leave a legacy here at ACU that will forever be remembered,” Cortes said.