by Andrew Garda
The journey from playing high school tennis to collegiate tennis can be a long and winding one, but few paths have been as long and winding as the one Christian Provenzano took to the University of Connecticut.
While Provenzano is a talented tennis player, he’ll have arrived at UConn this fall after playing just three high school matches. Injury made it difficult for Provenzano to get on the court regularly, dating back to his early teens.
“When I was about 13, I had a stress fracture in my back, which took me out of tennis for about a year, year and a half,” Provenzano said.
Provenzano credits Brandyn Fisher, his coach outside of school, with helping him stay focused through it.
“[He] was kind of helping me get back into playing and stuck with me. Even though I was starting out with just, like, 15 minutes a day,” Provenzano said. “Just get on the court, and then eventually progress into playing longer. He stuck with me ever since then and was a huge part of my development, physically on court and also mentally, just keeping me with a positive attitude. Not letting the obstacles get to me.”
The journey was difficult, but Provenzano kept at it, trying to make his way back to the court. That continued this past year as Provenzano entered his senior year at Montclair High School and intended to join coach Andrea Noyes on the Mounties’ boys tennis team.
Unfortunately, after three matches, Provenzano ended up having to deal with another injury. Still, he was a fixture with the team and helped Noyes throughout the season even if it wasn’t on the court.
Meanwhile, Provenzano was trying to sort out not only where he was going to college, but if he would be able to play tennis.
That meant he was determined to find a college where he felt comfortable, whether he was playing tennis or just attending as a student.
UConn felt like a natural fit.
“I saw it had a business school that was really cool, which was what I was interested in studying,” Provenzano said. “And then I saw they were D1, so I knew tennis would be a bit of a challenge for me [because of the injury].”
But Provenzano loved the campus and the school.
“It stayed my number-one choice throughout all the other colleges I visited,” he said.
It came down to UConn and Loyola Maryland. Provenzano liked both, but he really wanted UConn so he made the extra effort to show the school that.
“I met the director of tennis when I went up [to UConn] for my tour and I met their new head coach,” Provenzano said. “I tried to follow up with them with emails and let them know about my progress and show them my continual interest in UConn.”
Eventually, just after Memorial Day, he was given a tryout and the result was an offer by the coach to reserve a spot for him on the team.
His answer was obvious and after all the rehab and all the setbacks, he was ecstatic.
“It’s definitely been a long time coming. It’s been a long journey for me and I’ve always wanted to play college tennis when I was younger. I had no idea where, but to play D1 was a dream come true. And to also to be at a school where I know I’m going to love it and it was my first choice is just it’s crazy to me.
“It was kind of a dream come true for me,” Provenzano said. “Not a lot of people can say they saw their dream school and they were able to be fulfill everything they wanted to and to go to that school. I saw it and was like I would like to be here, regardless of tennis, just to be a student here. So when the tennis piece came to fruition, I was ecstatic. Emotion kind of poured out of me. It was something that was on my mind, but I never really comprehended it. It took me three days to calm down and assess the situation – like wow I am really going to UConn to play tennis.”
While he didn’t get to play much for her, Noyes knows the type of player UConn is getting in Provenzano.
“Christian will excel at UConn,” she said. “Not only does he have the skills, but he has the competitive spirit and the mental mindset as well. He will make an excellent addition to their team.”