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Eliza Gonzalez: coach dad

Photo Credit: Leah Bisgrove

By Shannon Blankenship | Sports Editor

With a father who’s been coaching tennis for nearly four decades, it was almost natural for tennis senior Eliza Gonzalez to find comfort holding the racket. Her father has been her coach for her entire career.

While the father-coach relationship may be difficult to differentiate for some people, Gonzalez loves it.

“My dad and I are very close and I think we do a good job of separating the relationship of dad and daughter, and also coach and player,” Gonzalez said. “But I also think having him know me very well helps him be able to coach me because no coach knows me better than he does. No coach has been with me since the beginning like he has. He really knows my game, and even mentally, if I’m playing a hard match, he knows how to calm me down.”

When Gonzalez was in fifth and sixth grade, she started to truly fall in love with the sport. She earned All Greater Rochester in high school and knew she wanted to continue playing in college. Her father, Ed Gonzalez, says he has seen her growth, especially at the college level.

“It’s great to coach her,” Ed said. “She’s a hard worker. She’s definitely taken on a leadership role with the team. She’s very supportive of all of them and always encourages them to be the best players they can be.”

On the court, Eliza has led with her play. She racked up a team best record of 4-3 playing in the first singles spot. Eliza matched that record in the first doubles spot with two different partners, Elizabth Sirico and Olivia Raschiatore. Eliza’s play was a bright spot in an otherwise tough season for the Golden Eagles who finished 3-9.

Eliza loves the sport, but her favorite part happens off the court.

Former number one American tennis player Billie Jean King left a note in Eliza’s notebook when she was in the eighth grade. Little did she know, the note that seemed so basic would have a lasting impact on her.

“Dream big and go for it,” King said.

King made an appearance at a tournament in Rochester when Eliza was younger. Watching King advocate for women everywhere is the reason Eliza loves the sport so much. She was able to get in contact and set up an interview with King at the tournament. Since then, she’s stayed in touch via email asking for advice about tennis and life.

“Part of my love for tennis is the activism that comes with it. With so many players, you see they’re not only phenomenal athletes, they use their platform for good,” Eliza said.

Eliza does not have set plans for the future. Right now she is studying Multimedia Journalism and Public Relations. As for school, she only plans on earning her Bachelor’s Degree. For tennis, she is excited about her senior season and to play with her team for one last year.

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