Love may mean nothing to tennis players the world over, but as one Cal Poly player knows, that doesn’t mean the game is the same everywhere you play.
Robert Foy is enjoying his second year on the Cal Poly men’s tennis team, thousands of miles away from his hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, but at least this year, he knows more of what he’s up against on the court.
“It’s unbelievable, the jump I had to make in my level of play,” Foy explains. “In New Zealand, tennis isn’t such a big sport. Then over here, all of a sudden I’m playing 22-and- 23-year-old, full-grown men. … I had to do a lot of growing up on the court last year.”
Apparently it’s paid off.
Foy, who came to the U.S. with an already-impressive record, has won six of his past seven singles matches to run his team-best total record to 8-5. Along with junior Darryn Young, Foy has comprised a doubles tandem that has gone 4-0 in dual play.
On Saturday and Sunday, he earned clutch, back-to-back singles victories at both Oregon and Portland, winning 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 and 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, respectively.
Long before donning the Mustangs’ green and gold, though, Foy represented New Zealand as a high-schooler, when he won five Junior International Tennis Federation doubles titles before going on to play at Wellington College in New Zealand, where his team went 7-1 and placed second nationally.
But Foy had bigger plans for himself and his tennis career, and in 2005 he decided to begin looking for a chance to come to the U.S. to play, specifically in California.
After talking with several coaches, Foy was recruited by former Cal Poly tennis coach Trevor Kronemann and came to play for the Mustangs in 2006.
“I started e-mailing coaches over here after I graduated, hoping for a chance to get a scholarship so I could play and study in the States,” he says. “Being able to play and further my academics here at Cal Poly, it’s such an unbelievable experience.”
Foy played at the No. 5 slot as the team’s sole freshman last year, finishing with a 16-19 record and a 13-10 dual record in singles. In doubles, he and Young went 15-10 and 14-6 in dual.
“Rob is a good player, but he’s an even better person,” said Cal Poly head coach Justin McGrath. “I think a lot of the (tennis) guys really respect him as a leader. He never gives up out on the court. With every game he’s constantly fighting and clawing to get the points; in everything he does he gives it 100 percent.”
With that spirit, Foy hopes the Mustangs can grab the Big West Conference title the team so narrowly missed out on last year.
“Every match is different because you’re always going up against a new competitor,” Foy says. “It makes it challenging, both physically and mentally. I love tennis because there are just so many facets to the game.”
Foy credits his older brother Warwick – who was the team captain at Sacramento State last year – for the continued influence on his play.
“I started playing 13 years ago, when I was 6, because my older brother had picked up the game,” Foy says. “He’s still a huge influence in how I play. He makes me feel good about going out on the court.”
Competing at the college level in America is especially challenging, regardless of where foreign players may move from, McGrath said.
“It’s hard for all of my international guys – college tennis is competitive over here,” he explained, noting he also has one player from South Africa, two from Sweden and one originally from Russia.
“Both as students having to make that transition to a different country, and as players competing at a very different level of play, it’s not easy. I have a lot of respect for my players that can handle the culture shock both on and off the court.”