If history really is meant to be broken then former Harlingen South graduate and current St. Mary University standout Jeremiah Gonzalez is taking those words to new heights in his college career.
After the Gonzalez-(Bojan) Popovic tennis tandem became only the second team in university history to advance to nationals last season, the duo turned heads once again this season by being named All-Americans by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Gonzalez and Popovic finished the season ranked No. 8 in the nation to earn the accolade.
Apart from the doubles distinction, Gonzalez also earned All-American honors in singles after finishing with a 16-4 record overall and ranked No.11 in the nation.
“It was a tremendous honor being named All-American,” said Gonzalez. “Ever since I began playing college tennis my goal has been to gain the All-American title in either singles or doubles, which would make me the first St. Mary’s men’s tennis player to obtain this award. Fortunately, I was able to accomplish both this year. I feel as though all my hard work has paid off and is being recognized.
“None of my success would have been possible without the guidance of my coaches, and support from my family and teammates.”
This season Gonzalez has also picked up other distinctions including being named the Heartland Conference Player of the Week in March, an All-Heartland Men’s Tennis First Team selection, the 2018 Heartland Conference Men’s Player of the Year, the ITA South Central Player to Watch, the 2018 ITA National Men’s Player to Watch, and a member of the ITA All-Academic Honors team.
Despite his most resent success, Gonzalez says he is nowhere near finished and the accolades have only fueled him further.
“After a great performance last year in doubles, Bojan and I have our sights set on being top five or higher in the nation,” Gonzalez said. “Together we will work hard with our other teammates in order to be match-ready and be at our peak performance level not only for ourselves, but for our team and school.
“We know it will be difficult to top our results, but if we keep working hard and have our eyes set on our goal, anything is possible.”
Q: When was the first time you picked up a tennis racket and what was you motivation for doing so?
JEREMIAH: When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my grandmother took me to my first lesson, but at that point I did not have an interest in tennis. At that age, my passion was golf. I officially started playing tennis when I was 8 years old. Growing up around my two aunts who played collegiate tennis at the Division I level gave me motivation to give tennis another chance.
Q: When did you know you wanted to play tennis at the college level?
JEREMIAH: As I grew up and made my way through the rankings in the Texas USTA section, I found that many of the other players’ goals were to hopefully play college tennis one day. At a young age, I was not very familiar with college tennis, but as I grew older the main hopes of me and my fellow competitors throughout the nation was to train hard in hopes of receiving a college scholarship in the future.
Q: You graduated from Harlingen South three years ago. How has your college career gone so far?
JEREMIAH: I feel as though so far my college career has been a great experience. My freshman year was a great experience. I was able to get a feel for how college tennis works. We had a historic run to the NCAA DII national tournament that year. No St. Mary’s men’s tennis team had ever gone that far before, so it was a huge honor to be a part of that team. My freshman year gave me the experience and confidence I needed to have a great sophomore year. This past year was a great year and hopefully I can keep on playing great tennis in hopes of performing better this upcoming year.
Q: As a college athlete, what are some things a high school athlete must start doing today if they also wish to play at the college level?
JEREMIAH: Spending a huge amount of time practicing and competing is key to making it to the next level. Dedication, in my opinion, is the most important factor if you want to be successful in whatever you do, especially in sports. If a person practices hard in their respective sport, they will surely see results. Although there will be tough times along the way, it is important to not lose sight of your goals and beliefs.
Q: What are some of your routines and motivations?
JEREMIAH: When I feel I am playing at my best, my physical fitness is one of the most important aspects I focus on. If I am not running as much as I should or not eating properly, I can feel my motivation leave me. However, the camaraderie on our team is great. We all try to keep each other motivated day in and day out because we have a team goal of making it to the NCAA DII national tournament again in hopes of competing for a national title.
Q: You’ve had some very promising showings at the college level; do you plan on playing professional in the future?
JEREMIAH: As of now I am focusing very hard on my academics in hopes of obtaining a degree in business management as well as kinesiology, so I have not thought about it much. Although, if I continue to work on my game and the opportunity arises, I would be all for it because I’d like to have fun while I’m still young.
Q: What is something that surprised you when you began playing college sports?
JEREMIAH: Everyone’s love for their school and school pride really surprised me. Students at larger schools tend to be very big on school spirit, but I didn’t really think students at St. Mary’s would be big on school spirit and sports because it is a smaller school. The students and faculty at St. Mary’s University love the athletes and are very supportive of them. It is a great atmosphere to be involved in.
Q: How has your time at St. Mary’s been?
JEREMIAH: St. Mary’s has been a great blessing. Everyone at the campus is very loving and caring. There is a friendly and positive vibe from everyone. I feel it is the perfect university to attend if you are looking a nice, friendly environment with lots of support from students as well as the faculty and staff.
Q: What are some of your future expectations?
JEREMIAH: I plan to finish out my undergrad with a degree in kinesiology and business management, and eventually make my way into physical therapy school. Lately, I have also been juggling around the idea of getting my MBA. Fortunately, I still have time to make a decision. Like I said before, playing a few professional tournaments sounds enticing as well, but I want to make sure I receive a great education in case something happens to where I can no longer play tennis.
Q: What is some advice you would give to anyone looking to play college sports?
JEREMIAH: Be dedicated to whichever sport you choose. Dedication is the key in life. If you are not dedicated to your sport, then you will not see the results you are hoping for in any sport you play. I believe that with hard work and dedication, the possibilities are endless.