Having talent is a must to be successful in just about any sport.
Freshman Tommy Aliber might not currently be the best player on the IU men’s tennis team, but his hard work and dedication have turned him into a two-time state champion and the No. 1 singles player in the Missouri Valley and give him the ability to possibly reach that point at IU.
“I think he’ll be comfortable winning at this level where some of the guys have never done that in the team environment before,” IU coach Randy Bloemendaal said. “He can teach the guys how to react and how to act around certain teams and how to prepare that way.”
Aliber, who attended Pembroke Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo., already has some solid credentials. He finished third in the state of Missouri as a senior, was named first team All-State and won a doubles title at the National Open. At one point, he was the No. 2-ranked high school doubles player in the country.
“We think he is a guy that can initially come in and help us in doubles,” Bloemendaal said of the 6-foot-3-inch Aliber. “We felt like, indoors, he could make an immediate impact even before he started making jumps as a player. There are a lot of guys that tall in the Big Ten, but he’ll definitely help us out because of size.”
Aliber drew some interest from other schools from around the country, but he said he felt comfortable at IU.
“I knew a couple of guys on the team so I felt really good about that,” Aliber said. “And then as soon as I got to know coach Bloemendaal and coach (Randy) Winn, it just seemed like the right fit.”
With many of the key pieces returning from last year’s team, the Hoosier team feels it can be a contender in the majority of its meets this season. Bloemendaal said Aliber will be a critical part of building IU into a national men’s tennis power.
“I think he’s going to be a big part of us making jumps,” Bloemendaal said. “He’s been at the top, and he knows that everyone has to be on board to win. He’s been there before.”
Aliber understands the fact that he will have a great deal of competition within his own team, but he said he is willing to work and help out in any way he can.
“I feel like I can bring a positive attitude, and I’ve been on teams before, so I feel real comfortable being part of a team,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I can ... and I’ll play wherever I’m needed.”