Carlos Matarredona Valor


Kelley Peters, Staff Writer

Carlos Matarredona Valor, a player on the University of North Alabama’s men’s tennis team, is originally from Alicante, Spain. Though he is far away from home, he has found that he feels a sense of belonging on the court with his teammates. 

Valor is a Professional Management major. He plans to earn his master’s degree and open a business afterward.  

Since he was young, Valor has loved playing tennis. He expressed that the sport is a family tradition that he is continuing.  

“My mom and my uncle on my mom’s side both played tennis,” said Valor. “I have a big tennis family, and I decided [to play] when I was around five or six. My brother is three years older than me. I was always hoping to be like my brother, so he started playing tennis, and I started playing as well.”  

Valor continued his love for tennis through eventually playing at a junior college in Texas, and he now plays for the Lions. He enjoys being at the university, stating that he loves the city and the school’s tennis program. He also greatly appreciates the opportunities playing tennis for the Lions has granted him, such as traveling around the eastern United States and meeting other international students. 

“We have one American on the team, and we’re [a team of] seven, so there’s a lot of people from a lot of different countries,” said Valor. “That’s always nice because we’re away from family, so we kind of create our own family. We’re all connected because nobody has their mom or dad [here]. They’re all far away, so it’s really important to stick together as a family.” 

Valor continued by explaining that this familial relationship is possible through the shared experiences of being away from home. He and three other teammates live together, meaning they spend a lot of time together both on and off the court. Because of this, the team has gotten to know each other very well, strengthening their connections to one another. He included that, especially for his teammate Nazar Fedoryshyn, an international student from Ukraine, it is important to be there for one another. Valor believes that the team has really come together to support their teammate during this uncertain time. 

Head tennis coach Brice Bishop has witnessed firsthand how this connection helps international students feel more comfortable at the university.  

“They come halfway around the world, and they leave their family back home, so the team kind of molds into their family away from home,” said Bishop. “You can see them spending a lot of time together off the court, and they go do things together. Being away from home, they rely on each other as a team family.”  

Bishop explained that, as part of that family dynamic, Valor has stepped up to be a leader for the younger players.  

“He assumed the leadership role very quickly and very easily,” said Bishop. “He’s a tremendous leader. He’s also someone who appreciates being here. From the day he got here, he’s been one of our better players. He’s a tremendous player. A quality I think is very important is, even though he’s one of our better players, every day he looks for a way to get better. He’s never satisfied with his level. He’s always looking at what he can do to get better, and I think a lot of the younger players should take notice of that.” 

In order to make these improvements, Valor has learned to vary his playing style.  

“Tennis here is different,” said Valor. “[In Spain], we play as a team, and in the U.S., it’s a bit more aggressive. Ever since I came here in 2018, I started to be more aggressive on the court. That’s something I learned from my coach. He’s an old-school coach, so he wants us to be aggressive all the time. That’s something that I’ve been improving on a lot.”  

Valor also stated that, though there is a tennis team, the sport is mainly played individually, making it very dependent on one’s mental state. Being able to control your emotions, he says, is what makes the difference between a good and great player. Being a student athlete poses a challenge to this concentration, however.  

“It’s kind of complicated sometimes,” said Valor. “We practice two hours a day, and we go to the gym in the mornings. It’s a lot without even taking into account the classes. I was in class this morning after waking up at 5:30 to go to the gym, and I was so tired, but we knew it was going to be like that. You’re busy all the time. Finding time for yourself is sometimes a struggle. I think that it’s really important to find some time for you. To be able to disconnect from classes and tennis is sometimes complicated, but you’ve got to be able to do that. Otherwise, it’s too much.”  

To take time away from his obligations, Valor likes to read, go hiking or play basketball with his teammates. Along with these hobbies, he stays motivated to continue with tennis and his studies by thinking of the future.  

“Whenever I’m thirty or forty, I know I’m going to look back at these years and I’ll appreciate all the memories that I’ve created,” said Valor. “But I know, too, that you’ve got to perform on a daily basis. You’ve got to be able to go to class and do well, practice and do well on the court as well. That’s something that keeps me on track, and it keeps me motivated to be able to think of these years when I’m older.”  

More than anything, Valor’s love of the sport since childhood is what keeps him on the court. Even after he graduates from the university, he is confident that he will continue to play tennis.  

“I know I need tennis in my life,” said Valor. “Whenever I stop playing tennis for a couple of weeks, I feel the need to start playing again. I’ve been playing tennis for a lot of years, so missing tennis is definitely something that I’m going to feel when I finish here.”  

While he looks forward to what the future holds, Valor said he is trying to soak up every moment he has with his team.  

“Being here is nice,” said Valor. “We’re all from far away, and there’s only so many times that you get to be around people like this, so I try to enjoy every day. I’m also a senior, so this semester is kind of rough because I’m not sure if I’m ready for what’s about to happen. Being here, they make it so easy. It’s a good time, and it makes tennis a lot more enjoyable.”