Maria Alvarez is our new tennis advisor. She is bringing in her years of experience in the college tennis recruitment industry in order to help USP clients find their dream university. We can't wait to see what success she has with USP and we wish her the best! Keep reading to find out more about Maria Alvarez.
USP: Tell us about your background. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Maria: My name is Maria Alvarez born and I grew up in Zaragoza, Spain. It is a mid sized city in Spain, located within Madrid and Barcelona. It is a really nice city. This is where I started to play tennis and where I trained until I went to college.
USP: Where did you go to college?
Maria: I played for Oklahoma State University from 2012 to 2016. It was the greatest experience of my life. I loved being part of such a special program with fantastic people on and off the court.
USP: Who have been your strongest influences in life?
Maria: I would say my parents are the main influences in my life especially my dad. He has worked super hard since he was a kid to build his own business and has taught my family all about discipline, working hard, and believing in yourself.
USP: What led you to this career? How did you end up at USP?
Maria: After I finished my college career, I started to work in the recruiting business (2017). Since then, I have been working within the college tennis industry, mainly in the recruiting aspect. Oscar Miranda from USP, who I have always admired (a bit in the shadow really), reached out to me about the possibility of joining USP this upcoming year. I also talked with Thomas Anderson and we really clicked. He understood the way that I worked and I liked that. I sincerely have always looked up to USP as a company that does the little things, which I believe is super important. So right at this point, I decided that I wanted to learn from them and keep growing in this business. I have always thought about how USP innovates, and not only in the recruiting area, but also with their events and their team.
USP: When people ask you what you do for a living, how do you respond?
Maria: I consider myself a sports entrepreneur, so I would respond that I work on developing ways to improve the live of others through sports. I love seeing tennis players having the same or an even better experience than I had in the United States, especially being an international student, and then having the resources to grow off the court to become great leaders in the sport industry.
USP: What is your proudest experience since working with USP?
Maria: It has not been not too long since I joined but we have already signed some clients together and we have helped each other to grow the USP methodology in Spain and the rest of Europe. I look forward to continue finding ways to work as a team and help as many players as possible together.
USP: What is the main mistake you see in the recruiting process?
Maria: I see players that are placed in schools that are way lower than their tennis or academic level just because it is “the easy way” to get things done. That really frustrates me. This is a one time opportunity for a kid. Recruiting is a process that requires us, as advisors, to spend time with the player and the families, so, together, we can get to a point of understanding what they really need and want, and to find what's the best option for them.
USP: One (or two) Client story you will never forget.
Maria: There have been many stories and clients that I have worked with, but one of the most recents one, from last year, it was about a player that is currently playing at my school (Oklahoma State University). It became a bit personal since the player who goes to “my school” needs to represent me a bit as well. The player kept telling me that he will demonstrate his level and that he was at the level to compete for a top 20 team in the country. It was one of the few teams that offered him a spot since his ranking wasn’t too high before college, so I was a bit unsure about him being happy in that position.
We took the risk, and agreed to the offer and even the Coach told us he will have to fight for the spot. Right now he is doing extremely well and he is competing at his best level. Can’t say enough about how happy I am that we took that risk and that he is proving everyone that he was at that level, and that he can continue developing himself on and off the court.
USP: What is your most important advice for a student and for the parent?
Maria: When I work with players, I always advice them to pay more attention to the relationship between the Coaches and possible teammates rather than paying attention to tennis or academic rankings. From my experience, and from most of the players’ experience that I have worked with, having a close and special relationship with the Coaches and teammates is the most important thing. They are pretty much like your family when you are living far away from home, so if that works well, everything else will fall into place.