Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

An Australian in Whitewater

Kellie Ha
Reuben Giorgio slices a forehand while playing in the UW-Whitewater Invite.

Tennis is a game that has long been dominated at the professional level by European players. The UW-Whitewater tennis team however, has taken a home grown approach to building its roster, with seven Wisconsinites dominating the roster of 16 players. While there are a few European players on the team, there is one player who stands out as being far particularly from home.

Reuben Giorgio hails from Perth, Australia. While Whitewater was not his first choice it seems as though it was the best choice for him. To say his path to Whitewater is unique would be an understatement. The Australian is now at his third college and is hoping that third time’s the charm.

“College tennis was always my dream, since I was in high school I really first started thinking about it. I mean I’ve been playing since the age of 3,” Giorgio said.

His dream ended up taking him to Kentucky for two years while he attended Union College, an NAIA school of a little over 1,000 students. Even after two years there he didn’t feel right.

“It was not really the sort of place I could see myself graduating,” Giorgio said. “Like did I really come to the US to graduate from here.”

At Union he played alongside his identical twin brother Oscar, who ended up transferring as well. This was where the Giorgio brothers parted ways.

“It was probably better suited for our personal tennis level interests. Also, living together for 18 years, we knew it was sort of time to experience a bit more separation,” Giorgio said.

With that, he transferred to Cardinal Stritch in Milwaukee. For one season he was able to enjoy the campus and his team. Unfortunately, news of the school closing due to lowering enrollment and financial deficit meant that yet again Giorgio would have to find a new place to call home.

Cardinal Stritch head coach Andrew McGlashen made finding a new home pretty easy for Giorgio. McGlashen played tennis under Warhawks head coach Frank Barnes, so he had a good suggestion for Giorgio, a suggestion that he was familiar with having visited UWW twice before.

“Pretty clear decision to come to Whitewater for the last step,” Giorgio said. “(UWW) is a whole different experience than I was used to. Where I was was NAIA, smaller institutions, Union was about the same size as Stritch, a bit over 1,000 students. So this is eye opening straight away, the campus size, the program. Frank seems really organized and Grant the assistant coach as well. It’s just a new experience for me, I like it a lot.”

Not only is the setting different, but the people are different too. Despite coming all the way to America from Australia he had never played on a college team with an American before. Both of his previous schools were exclusively international students on the roster.

“I really love the guys, that’s the main reason I like college. You get to meet everyone, it’s like a second family, you build that bond and relationship with everyone,” Giorgio said. “That’s when I think I thrive most, when I can be in an environment where everyone is accepting and all on the same page and they give you that support. You thrive as a team as well.”

Giorgio, a senior, has already made a name for himself as one of the top players but also as simply a good person.

“He was kind of quiet at first but now he’s really coming out of his shell,” head coach Frank Barnes said. “He’s very entertaining, humorous and bright. Definitely already becoming one of the guys that everyone likes to be around.”

Barnes and his team are no strangers to having transfers on the team, according to Barnes the current roster has five Division I transfers, which includes Giorgio and one other Cardinal Stritch transfer. 

“All those guys are new coming in at a pretty high level coming in the last year and a half. So that does cause a lot of influx, our returners are ready for the challenge,” Barnes said.

As the team nears the Midwest ITA Regional, set for Friday Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, the team looks like it could have some of its best success ever.

“This team is unique. It seems like everyone is happy to have the transfers here. That kind of establishes us at the point now where this is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” Barnes said. “The guys recognize that and they want to be a part of the process and part of a roster that hopefully will do things that we haven’t done before.”

Barnes believes that up to four of his players could be worthy of playing the number one singles slot, which means that the team carries incredible depth. Giorgio has been a key piece to that depth, having won the one singles flight at the UW-Whitewater Invite in early September. He and his teammates will look to carry on their success as the season progresses and they grow even closer as teammates.

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Parker Olsen
Parker Olsen, Managing Editor

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