«I am used to living abroad, but I never forget my roots»

Álvaro Morcillo Calderón (Don Benito, 1991) was practically born with a racket in his hand. At the age of 7, he held it for the first time, although at that time he did not know that he was going to make this sport his profession. A student at IES Donoso Cortés, he fondly remembers his time at this center for the support he received after obtaining a scholarship in the United States to be a tennis player and study a degree in Sport Management at the University of Tennessee. “All the teachers went out of their way and supported me a lot with the hard process of finishing high school and at the same time preparing for the English entrance exams to said University,” he remembers.

Since then, he began his adventure around the world and today he responds to this interview from Singapore. Although she confesses that, despite the distance, he maintains the same group of friends as always. “Some of them, like José Manuel Sánchez, I’ve known since kindergarten,” she says with a laugh. That that child ended up linked to sports was no surprise to anyone. “I always really liked sports, I played soccer, basketball… And even ping pong, but where I really found my greatest satisfaction and where the ‘bug’ bit me was always tennis.”

Thus, he remembers, he was lucky that his father taught him to take his first steps with the racket, “although he was always more into basketball and started playing tennis late, at 36 years old.” His first hits were at the Don Benito municipal facilities until a team was formed in the town with which they won several regional championships. From there came the opportunity to assist others on a national level.

-Why do you choose tennis?

-As we tennis players say, I chose tennis because I always had a ‘good hand’. I loved tennis from a very young age and I always liked to watch my idols like Carlos Moya, Juan Carlos Ferrero or Alex Corretja on television. I had so much passion that I always took my racket everywhere to try to find a place to have a rally; In fact, my grandfather made me a small fronton so I could play.

-What was your first experience abroad?

-When I went to the USA when I was 18 thanks to a scholarship managed by the Zaragoza company AGM Sports, led by former professional tennis player Gonzalo Corrales. It all seemed like another world to me. I enjoyed and learned a lot from the American system which consists of combining studies and sports at a high level at the same time. I think it is the perfect formula since being able to dedicate yourself to the professional world of any sport is very difficult and this way you manage to compete at the same time as you prepare for the world of work if you cannot dedicate yourself to tennis professionally. It is a great honor to have been one of the few Extremadurans to have chosen the American path and to have been able to finish my degree with a diploma that today has opened the doors to the world of work in any country I have been to.

-What did the United States give you and how long were you there?

-I really felt what the American dream was; If you put your mind to it and work for it, you may get a very good opportunity, as was the case of being a private tennis coach for one of the best-known families in Houston, Texas, the Berry family.

-What countries came after?

-My last stop in the United States was in New York as a tennis teacher for two summers and from there I went to Dubai for three months where I was part of a tennis project implemented in a private school in Dubai. Later, I went to Doha for six months to give private lessons, but I also had my first professional experience of teaming up with former professional tennis player Cici Bellis, who was number 35 in the world.

-How do you end up arriving in Singapore?

-When you finish your degree in the USA, they add a kind of database where they have tennis clubs in all parts of the world, private entities, that have access to your profile. It came to me from one moment to another during my time at Don Benito when he was on vacation and looking at job options. A private company in Singapore, Vamos Academy PTE, contacted me because they were very interested in my profile, Asia seemed interesting to me and I gave it a chance.

-What has it been like all this time in Singapore, where the hardest part of the pandemic also happened?

-All beginnings are always hard until you get used to the pace of life, culture, language… During the pandemic, Singapore coped quite well because we were not at the maximum level of the famous ‘Stay At Home’. We always had some controlled freedom, but not the obligation to always be stuck at home. Personally, I didn’t have a very good time because I wanted to be with my loved ones and due to the pandemic I had to go two years without being able to see my family, which is said to be soon, but it is very hard. I couldn’t work either, which made it very long and heavy.

-What does Singapore currently offer you professionally?

-I have been working for almost four years and currently work on my own with my portfolio of VIP clients. I see a lot of future in Asia and a lot of potential in Singapore particularly. I hope I have many more years here. I would like to create my company and bring on more tennis coaches in the near future. One thing I notice here, unlike other countries, is that here you always have to give your best version, they value you a lot and pay you very well, but you always have to provide the highest quality in what you do.

And personally?

-I have been with my local girlfriend from Singapore for a year, Lois Wan, she was one of my students. She is a private banker and she has also helped me form the tennis company I have today.

-How is the standard of living there?

-I think I read recently that Singapore is the most expensive country in the world. I live in the downtown area, Orchard, and I always see a lot of luxury.

-After all these experiences, how would you summarize life outside of Spain and away from your native Don Benito?

-I am already used to living abroad, but I never forget my roots, in fact, I always try to return to the town for Christmas and summer, which I love.

-With Don Benito you always have the link of the academy that you manage with your father, right?

-I have a common project with my father that is more than a dream for us. Our Club motto is ‘Passion Made Possible’. passion made it possible. We started from nothing, which was the wall that my grandfather built for me so that I could play ball in my free time; Little by little we took over some more land from my grandparents’ field, we built the first tennis court, which was previously an olive grove. Later, with small investments we built the second tennis court and the first paddle tennis court. Right now they are building the club’s locker rooms and bathrooms. In the future I would like to have a cafeteria with views of the Medellín Castle, but I still have many more tennis classes to give for that!

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