Despite team struggles, Orlando provides hope for future

In the midst of a rough spring season, freshman Carlotta Orlando has arguably been the team's best player. The Italy native held a 8-3 in singles matches through March 15 and is the only player above .500.

Steven Rowell/Contributing Writer

Despite the dark cloud of a season the FIU tennis team is having with a 2-10 record through March 15, there has been a ray of sunshine from freshman Carlotta Orlando. The Italy native has a team leading seven singles victories this season with a record of 8-3 and two of those three losses were matches where Orlando push her opponent to the maximum three sets.

The early success hasn’t taken Head Coach Katarina Petrovic by that much surprise.

“Based on her results from before, it’s normal, but of course it’s more pressure since you play for a team and not for yourself,” Petrovic said. “I’m sure if she was playing for herself the results would be even better.

While Petrovic feels she is meeting expectations, Orlando felt somewhat surprised from the success she has had on the court, considering the circumstances when arriving.When Orlando arrived at FIU, time was not on her side as the freshman came to the University three days before the season opener.

Despite the feeling of being overwhelmed, Orlando had a good showing in her collegiate debut winning in doubles and singles against Florida Gulf Coast University back on Jan. 26. While having little time to get up to speed with the team before the season was a challenge, the freshman still had her share of other challenges and transitions to make. That included going from playing on red clay tennis courts in her hometown of Trieste, Italy to the hard courts in the United States.

“Playing on the style of courts here is different, you have to play more aggressive, and faster, but in the red clay I can run a little bit more,” Orlando said.

Then there is the typical transition anyone has to make when coming to the U.S. for the first time of getting accustomed to life in the states.

“In Italy, I felt like there was more freedom, but here I feel the people are more helpful and open,” Orlando said.

Once Orlando got settled into Miami and FIU, she took the time to get close with her teammates. She points to the trip to New York back on Feb. 3 as one of the key times the freshman really got to close her teammates and most notably junior Giulietta Boha.

“Giulietta was the first person I started to talk a lot with, in the trip to New York from the car, and being roommates in the hotel, we became a lot closer,” Orlando said.

The success that Orlando has had on the court so far has prompted Petrovic to have Orlando as the number one position in singles, which is reserved for the player who the coach feel is the strongest in singles on the team. The fact that Orlando is the number one in singles speaks volumes of the confidence Petrovic has in the freshman.  For Orlando, she sometimes feels the pressure of being the number one in singles.

“Sometimes I get a little nervous because I know I have to play good and sometimes it is pressure knowing you’re playing the other team’s best,” Orlando said.

With the success Orlando has had as a freshman, a bright future might be ahead for Orlando, and perhaps the whole team with the Italy native leading the way.