***Soufiane Azargui came to Toronto from Morocco at the age of 10 and a half. Over the next 7 years, Soufiane developed as an excellent tennis player winning singles and doubles titles at the national and ITF level as well as maintaining a high academic level at Bateman High School in Burlington. After six years at the ACE tennis Academy he fulfilled his objective of receiving a scholarship to an Ivy League school, Brown University in September of 2010. Half of his college career is gone, and here is what he thinks about it.***
As a high school student, I never paid any mind to the older college students who repeatedly lamented that university was flying by. As I sat in the library for the all day study sessions during finals period in late May, I took a moment to reflect on my last two years at Brown. One glaring aspect came to mind: half my college career has gone by in a flash. It seems as though it were just yesterday that I used to hear Pierre’s booming voice on those glistening courts at ACE. I guess they weren’t kidding, when they said time is the most precious of commodities.
My freshman year was filled with numerous eye-opening adventures: experiencing collegiate team tennis for the first time, attending massive lecture hall classes, and even attending the occasional frat party. I remember blogging about it (for ONcourt) on a weekly basis, immediately following all of our matches. That year was capped off with great friendships, tight team camaraderie and a program turnaround. From an individual standpoint, I had a solid outing my first year as a Brown Bear. I finished the year establishing myself as a reliable teammate at the bottom of the lineup in singles and helping hold down the #1 spot in doubles: garnering Second Team All Ivy honors with fellow freshman and ACE affiliate Brandon Burke (son of Doug Burke).
My sophomore campaign has seen me develop many of my freshman friendships, and has seen the team welcome four great freshmen. Many of my friends lived in my dorm hall first year. It provided a new dynamic to our friendships, when we arranged to meet under different circumstances. My living arrangement also changed: I had moved in to a four-man suite with Brandon (Burke) and two mutual friends from freshman year. As close as I was with Brandon, it was good to get to know these guys on a more personal level and become better friends.
As weird a feeling as it was to see both our captains graduate and move on, we were thrilled to welcome four unique tennis players and personalities to the squad and make a push for the Ivy title once more. We hung out much more off the court than I can remember my first year, and we had open lines of communication within the team as no captains had been named.
Another welcomed change that occurred this year was the sudden appearance of A’s on my transcript. I think everyone on our team can attest to the fact that an improvement occurs between your first and second year scholastically due in large part to a higher level of comfort and confidence, a familiarity with the academic system, and many more visits to our two school libraries. Who knew that there would be a correlation between library time and grades?
There have also been negatives to this sophomore season. Although this season has seen me play much higher in the singles lineup, garnering Second Team All Ivy honors in both singles and doubles, it has also been marred by injury. A continuing discomfort in my lower back in the fall turned into back spasms and continuing strains to the muscles near my spine. As a result, I wasn’t able to play all the matches this season, having at one point, to return to Canada for treatment. This injury has lingered even to this point in the summer, as I continue to treat it to try to get back to peak physical shape for a fall return.
As I progressed this year, I realized that it is now time to transition to the “real world” of an adult. Going into my third year now, I have to start planning the fast-approaching post-undergrad years. Turning 20 last November, it would only be a matter of time before I would try to continue to pursue my interest in Economics (my major) outside the classroom. So, I have thankfully been given the opportunity to get a taste of the “real world” finance world by working for CIBC this summer in their Risk Management Division. Wearing professional dress attire, I am experiencing what it is like to be a working adult in Canadian society, a regular 9-5 Joe.
Having seen my mother for only three weeks in my past two school years, I have had the chance to become more independent, with guidance from Pierre Lamarche and Harry Fauquier. My mom, slowly letting go of her grip on the reigns, has allowed me to develop as an individual, although the beard is still far from fully formed.
I also ended my year receiving what I consider a tremendous honor, as a junior no less: being named captain, along with senior Tom Deighton, for the 2012-2013 tennis season. It’s so strange to think that only two years ago, I was playing under two great captains. And although I would consider myself more of a leader by example and a shy individual, I hope to display some of the qualities I saw in my two predecessors that made them complimenting captains. More importantly, I hope to be writing at some point next year as part of the Brown Bears Men’s Tennis Ivy Title Champs.