SHARONVILLE – Watching Matt Arroyo play tennis is an enjoyable experience. Unless, of course, you’re standing at the other end of the court trying to keep up with him.
Arroyo, a Princeton High School senior, is one of the top singles players in Cincinnati, and has been for some time now.
Before a match, Arroyo, who’s signed with Wittenberg University, sits calmly, armed with his Wilson Blade racket that’s, at this point, like an extra appendage. He’s calm because he’s been around the block. Big matches, no big deal. Arroyo has experience playing in some of the biggest tournaments in the Midwest, in addition to USTA summer matches.
“I’m pretty calm under pressure … I kind of thrive in that situation,” Arroyo said. “My forehand is my strongest stroke. My ability to get to balls, and my quickness help me stay in points longer.”
Arroyo’s mom played tennis, that’s where his love for the sport grew, he says. She had a racket in his hand at five years old. Around fifth grade he started playing for real. Arroyo said the summer going into his junior season he picked up the pace and began to win some bigger tournaments.
Tennis is about movement. Watch Arroyo play and it’s simple to see he knows how to move. It’s instinctual for the 6-footer with long arms and quick feet.
“He’s athletic, that’s what jumps out first,” Princeton coach Rob Caress said. “He moves really well. Kind of has an effortless, natural athletic ability.”
Arroyo, who’s current record is 18-2 this season (he’s still playing), was a Greater Miami Conference singles semifinalist and drew the No. 2 seed at the Division I Mason sectional. He won his first three matches at the sectional on May 14, meaning he’ll finish top-four and earn a spot at the district tournament.
“Matt’s mentally tough, he doesn’t really get down on himself. He stays pretty even-keeled as far as the mental and emotional part of the game,” said Caress.
Arroyo’s mental toughness and deftness were visible during his first round sectional match. He drew a tough opponent from Mason, sophomore Charlie MacKenzie, who was a doubles player all year. Arroyo took the first set 6-2, then uncharacteristically dropped the second set 3-6. He recovered and broke MacKenzie to win the third set and match, 6-4. The part of Arroyo’s game that’s tough for opponents to deal with is his ability to get a racket on almost everything. He never gives up on a point.
His plan is to play in The Met, Cincinnati’s amateur tournament, this summer. A lot of the top college players, Arroyo said, use that event as a way to warm up for college.
“I want to see how I do in those high-level environments,” Arroyo said.