Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe – the world’s top male tennis players all have competed in the Davis Cup, the premiere international team event in men's tennis. A pair of Bryant student-athletes can add their names to that illustrious list.
Jorge Ortiz-Garcia ’18 and Jorge Isaias Ortiz-Garcia ’20 represented Puerto Rico in competition against Bolivia in a qualifying round of the Davis Cup in April. The brothers put up a strong effort in two matches, but ultimately were bested by the Bolivians. Nonetheless, both Bulldogs describe the experience as unforgettable.
“The event had nothing to do with Bryant, so we were really thankful that the University gave us the opportunity to go.”
“It’s always been our dream to represent our country in the sport you play,” said Jorge Ortiz-Garcia. But before they could go, the brothers had to get permission from Bryant tennis coach Ron Gendron to leave the team mid-season to play in the tournament.
“He was really understanding,” said Jorge Isaias Ortiz-Garcia. “The event had nothing to do with Bryant, so we were really thankful that the University gave us the opportunity to go.”
The Davis Cup atmosphere was one they had never experienced: Fans sought their autographs, and they took part in post-match press conferences.
The intense environment raised their level of play. “We just had so much adrenaline during the match,” said Jorge Ortiz-Garcia. "Usually I feel some pain while I'm playing, but ... I just felt I was playing amazingly.”
"I love the campus, and there is a really strong community of Spanish-speaking students."
On top of that was complete support from their homeland. “Knowing that you have a whole country rooting for you is an unbelievable feeling,” Jorge Isaias Ortiz-Garcia said.
From Puerto Rico to Smithfield
The brothers never would have enrolled at Bryant if it weren’t for a summer tennis camp at Brown, where they caught Gendron's eye. It was a goal of theirs to become the first in the family to attend college in the United States, and Bryant ended up being the perfect fit.
"I love the campus, and there is a really strong community of Spanish-speaking students,” said Jorge Ortiz-Garcia, adding that Bryant's global student body is "beneficial for everyone."
Jorge quickly committed to Bryant. His younger brother kept in touch with Gendron and enrolled two years later. Together, they were part of this year’s men’s tennis team that won its fifth consecutive Northeast Conference championship.
Both students are management majors. Jorge Ortiz-Garcia plans to obtain his MBA before going into healthcare management. The younger Jorge hopes to do something with cars.
“In every aspect of leadership and becoming independent, Bryant has prepared us for the real world ... providing all the tools that we need to succeed in life,” says Jorge Ortiz-Garcia.