Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Blogging with JZ
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 17, 2010
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 17, 2010

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Hey Arizona fans,

It has been three days since the finals at Lakewood Ranch Country Club and I am back in Arizona sitting in my classroom counting the days until next year’s event.  Instead of writing a day-by-day blog I decided I want to share with all of you everything that occurred over the weekend, because Andres “Nacho” Carrasco and I just had the experience of a lifetime.  Before I begin I would be remiss by not thanking Chris Marquez for putting on the best college tournament I have ever played in.  I also need to thank the family that hosted me, Sherri and Thomas Krug, as well as their three children Connor, Jake, and Ava, which I will tell you more about later on. 

We arrived Wednesday night in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida to play in a clay court tournament with many great schools attending such as UF and Miami.  When we arrived, the tournament director Chris Marquez who is a good friend of our Coach Tad Berkowitz greeted us.  We went out for a quick bite to eat and man was it good to be home.  The weather was 75 degrees and you could smell the ocean breeze.  Right after dinner we went to the house where we would be staying with a family that lived right by the tournament courts.  Three young 8-year-old kids who had more energy at 10 o’clock at night then you could imagine welcomed us.  Their names are Connor, Jake, and a gorgeous blonde girl Ava, as well as their parents Sherri and Thomas.  Sherri is the daughter of ESPN T.V. announcer Dick Vitale and her husband Thomas is the youngest Judge in the State of Florida.  Not a bad host family huh? 

It was time to see our rooms and I was too lazy to take the upstairs room so I decided to give it to Nacho.  Little did I know that the upstairs room happened to be a movie theatre?  The screen took up the whole wall and I was extremely upset.  I spent most of my time up there and would sit in the recliner and watch movies and utter “just living the dream baby.” The next day’s matches began, I had a bye and was seeded No. 6 and Nacho played a guy from Temple.  I lost second round and Nacho won both of his matches and was in the quarters.  That same night we had a player’s party at the country club.  Let me tell you something, it was unbelievable, absolutely gorgeous.  Dickie V was there with his wife and I just loved it.  Nacho and I got a few girls numbers and life was just looking good even though I lost. 

The next day Nacho had a huge battle and won 7-5 in the third in his Semifinal match.  It was a massive grind and I was so happy for him because this was his last fall tournament.  Now it was time to get dressed and get ready to go to Dick Vitale’s house because he was hosting a huge party for all of us.  It was worth it to go to this tournament just to see this house.  Walking into his house I thought I was at Caesars Palace, haha.  He had a movie theatre as well but it was four times the size as the house I was staying at, so I told Sherri that I think I was going to stay at her dad’s house instead, haha. Dick Vitale and Nick Bollettieri, a very famous tennis coach and someone who has been like a father to me both gave a motivational speech to all the players.  They told us that we should always remember what a privilege it is to be a Division I athlete and to stay away from the bad things that could take away that privilege in a second.  It was an unbelievable speech and made me realize how great I have it here at the University of Arizona. 

The next morning I was woke up at 8 a.m. buy a toy gun and was getting walked on by Ava in her soccer cleats.  I thought I was having a nightmare but it was actually occurring.  Man those kids just love to bother me, but I love every second of it.  What can I say about these three young kids? They honestly are something special.  They always have a smile on their face and they just love to play.  They love sports and remind me a lot of myself when I was a kid.  I had the time of my life for that week staying with them and seeing them in the U of A uniforms.  I called them my mini Cats, haha.  “They just love the game baby!” As Dickie V would say. 

Nacho had his final match against Florida and he lost 6-1 in the third set.  It was a great battle and a huge crowd.  I was so proud of him because he had a great last fall tournament and it was great to see him have success because he deserved it.  The main thing I want to get across about this trip was that it wasn’t about winning or losing.  I’m usually a winner.  But this trip was a little different.  This trip the loss didn’t hurt so badly because it was way more than that.  I was in my hometown with my best friend “Nacho” in his last year playing tennis for the Wildcats.  We got to meet so many people and there is no price tag for the experience we got.  I honestly will never forget this tournament and all the people who just loved every second of it simply because they love the game.

Hope you all enjoyed the blog!

Till next time,

Bear Down and GO CATS!!

Yours Truly,

Jason Z

Bear Down Challenge M Ten