The End of a Great Journey

Contributing Writer – Gian Issa, MTSU Men’s Tennis

It’s been a good season. I’m actually really happy with how my senior year has gone. I wanted to go out in a good way. I think we did that, we had an incredible season as we only lost four matches against four really good teams.

Now, we’re getting ready for the conference tournament.

Looking Back

Gian Issa is ready to return with a forehand.

Gian Issa sets up to return with his forehand. Photo: Brent Beerends/MT Athletics

I don’t come from a country where there is a historic tennis tradition. Growing up in Suriname, we had this wall in my garage and any time I had free time even if it was after practice or after a game, I would just sit there and smack a tennis ball into that wall for hours.

This made me better I guess because at 10 years old I was already playing against 14-year-olds. When I turned 11, I started winning tournaments throughout my region. At that moment, is when I started thinking I was pretty good at tennis. At 14, I was the number one player in my country and being from Suriname it was a pretty big deal, and at that time I started to take it even more serious.

In high school, I started traveling to America more because kids in Suriname stopped playing so there was no one to practice with or to push me. I knew if I wanted to continue my tennis career that I had to make this move.

It worked out.

The Orange Bowl

The Orange Bowl is one of the biggest tournaments in Florida. I was 17 years old playing in the 18u. Coach Jimmy was there and we connected through Facebook. Getting recruited is a very stressful process because you want to find a good fit and a place that you can call home for four years.

Coach Jimmy and I used to Skype A LOT.

Even before skyping Coach Jimmy, I liked MTSU. It’s not a power-5 school but it’s a big school that has had some top 30 teams.

What MTSU Means to Me

It’s not always been easy but through my four years, I think I made the right decision.

For example, I made a life-long friend in Miguel Negre. We both flew into Atlanta in 2014. I remember we had never met each other before, but he had his tennis racket in his bag and I just knew it was him. He’s a guy I’ve known and grown with, I mean we were doubles partners and we’ve been roommates for four straight years in three different houses. Looking back on it, it’s just cool that we came in together and now we get to leave together.

Photo of Men's Tennis Senior Day with Coach Jimmy Borendame, seniors Jan Porteset, Miguel Negre Fernandez, and Gian Issa, with MT Athletics Athletic Director, Chris Massaro on the courts at Adams Tennis Complex. Photo by Matthew Posey/MT Athletics

Men’s Tennis Senior Day with Coach Jimmy Borendame, seniors Jan Porteset, Miguel Negre Fernandez, and Gian Issa, with MT Athletics Athletic Director, Chris Massaro. Photo by Matthew Posey/MT Athletics

Coming to an End

We just played our last match at the Adams Tennis Complex. It’s crazy because I’ll never play in that place again. I’ve spent a lot of time there, made a lot of memories there, and suffered a lot of tough losses. I will miss playing in front of that crowd because when that place roars… I’m just really going to miss it, that’s all.

Now I sit at 6th overall in wins (86) and I look at the guys surrounding me and I’m like – Oh my God… these guys are All-Americans, they’re all considered legends… I mean they’ve won national championships – to be in front of them and behind them is awesome, but the guy who sits at (88) total wins was a guy I looked up to my freshman year when he was a senior, Ettore Zito. I used to wish that I could have the same experience as he did. Now I’m here, coming to the end of a great journey.