By: Angel David Cintrón Jiménez
Steven David Maisonet is the youngest player on the tennis team in the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus (UPRM). He has a long history of playing tennis. Maisonet started playing tennis when he was around the age of seven. He told a funny story about how he came to play tennis and how it became the sport he loves today. When Maisonet was a little boy, he wanted to learn karate, as every young child did, but his father decided otherwise and chose tennis for him because his oldest sister was already playing the sport. He has been playing for over eleven years now and has had his unforgettable moments and his misfortunes.
When Maisonet joined the 12 year old category, he was basically at the top of his game, ranking two times in a row at the top five of Puerto Rico and flying over to Nashville, Tennessee, to represent his beloved island in one of the biggest tournaments with players from all over the United States. They gathered to play and find out who was the best of the best. When he joined the 14 year old category, he was still at the top five in the Caribbean but could not attend the national tournament due to some inconveniences. But all that glory suddenly changed when years later, Maisonet went into the 16 year old category where an injury to his shoulder stopped him from playing the game.
Upon starting in UPRM, however, he decided to continue his passion when he decided to go to the try-outs of the University to have some fun and see if by any chance he would make the team. Steven and his roommate Roberto went but only Steven was lucky enough to be picked from a pool of over thirty students. The University has rigorous training for their sports; in tennis this involves practicing four times a week! Every day they start by stretching (static and dynamically), then drills of consistency, depth and cardio. To finish, they play some trial matches. Since he is the youngest player on the team, he has to sit out his first semester to practice with the team and get accustomed to the lifestyle of being a student and having to study for his classes.
In his entire life, Steven has played over one hundred tournaments between here in the Caribbean and the United States. Steven has won many tournaments but nothing compares to the sensation he had when he won his first tournament. Steven said, “I felt like a beast.” Tennis is a lifestyle for Steven, and he likes this sport because it is physical as well as mental. He states, “I like the sensation I get when I win a match.” But nothing he earned; through hard work he got by himself. His two role models are his father and his coach. His father because he is his biggest supporter and fan. Both of them have sacrificed a lot for him. His coach because he taught him everything he knows about tennis. He also went to every game to support him. Steven also has his favorite players that are his role models on the court. Roger Federer is his favorite player because as Maisonet says: “He is a very technical player and he is one of the best players in all of history.” Marat Safin is another of his favorites because, “His style of playing has been the most influential on [Steven’s] style of playing.”
In a complex game such as tennis, there are many techniques you can learn and many tricks you can master that make you a better player, but nothing compares to the information you learn when you lose a match. The first time Maisonet got defeated, he was sad and mad but this motivated him to improve as a player, so the next time he played with that same opponent he could win. Maisonet is a true believer in learning from his mistakes. This challenges him to be a better player everyday. That is why when he wins, he feels very good about himself but when he loses, he can learn and make modifications for his next game. In the future, Steven Maisonet wants to represent Puerto Rico in the Central American games, and as a student, he is aspiring to become a civil engineer.