Uncertainty ahead for Arizona tennis senior
When Arizona men’s tennis head coach Clancy Shields first heard the news of the season being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first person he thought of was Alejandro Reguant, the lone senior on the Wildcats roster.
“I received the news on a conference call sitting in the parking lot of Whole Foods in Malibu,” Shields said. “Instantly my thoughts went to Alejandro, our lone senior. I gave him a big hug, told him it was over, that I love him and grateful for the opportunity to be his coach. His first comment back to me was, ‘Do you think it’s possible I could get another year?’ That to me is why it is so important to fight for these kids and get them eligibility relief.”
Reguant is aware that it is ultimately out of his control regarding whether or not the NCAA will grant him another year of eligibility but hopes he hasn’t played his final match with the Wildcats.
“It is on the talks right now,” Reguant said. “The NCAA has mentioned that it would be appropriate to give every athlete whose season got cut short an extra year of eligibility, which we all hope that happens.”
Shields knows that this situation is about much more than just sports, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he feels for the senior after coaching him for so long.
“I’m hopeful,” Shields said. “I understand that this pandemic is much greater than college sports and everyone is hurting. However, for our team and Alejandro’s life, it means everything. It’s worth fighting for, it will dramatically affect all of us here to get another opportunity to be together and to honor Alejandro’s sacrifice. … We have to fight for everyone, especially those who make this place great.”
Junior Filip Malbasic noted that he and the entire team were very sad when they heard the news of the season being cut short.
“We were all very sad that the season got canceled,” Malbasic said. “I remember we were outside Whole Foods waiting to play Pepperdine. All the hard work leading up to this and just to see the season got canceled was tough. It was heartbreaking that this could have been Alejandro’s last match, but hopefully we all get an extra year of eligibility.
Malbasic, who originally hails from Sweden, said that he is still in contact with his family back home, who currently remain safe.
“The situation is a lot better in Sweden," Malbasic said. “My family is doing well, and they are not in the same serious situation like the U.S. I read that the virus is growing in Sweden and I just believe there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now."
Arizona was sitting at 11-3 on the season with high expectations moving forward as they were nearing the start of conference play. Reguant knew how special this team was and was extremely disappointed to see this season come to a halting end, not only because he might have played his final collegiate tennis match but also because he knew what this team was capable of.
“I thought we were on the path to do something special this year,” Reguant said. “I would say we had a couple moments this season that opened our eyes and made us realize that if we wanted to achieve something big we had to work beyond hard, and I felt that made us be on the same page and ready to do whatever it took to achieve big goals.”
Reguant, who is originally from Spain, said the coronavirus situation is much worse in Spain as he continues to talk with his parents every day.
“The situation back home is one of the worst in the world right now,” Reguant said. “My parents are both stuck at home and they can’t leave the house since the country declared State of Emergency two weeks ago. I talk to them every day and they are encouraging me not to rush to go back yet since the situation is very scary back there.”
With Reguant being the only senior on the team, Shields said he expects to have the whole team back next season as they wait to hear about Reguant. He also mentioned that they have a top-10 recruiting class for next season and doesn’t know yet how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the recruiting situation.
“We should have our whole team back and we will wait to hear about Alejandro,” Shields said. “We will also be adding a great recruiting class to that mix, which I believe will help put us in the conversation to play for a national championship. … There are definitely big challenges ahead, but I’m confident in our leadership here at Arizona and the community of Tucson to overcome this.”
The NCAA made the official announcement on Monday that they are granting another year of eligibility to spring athletes, meaning Reguant will have the option of returning next year to play another season of tennis with Arizona.
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