Athlete of the Week: Alan Magadan

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

The fall semester has been filled with great UTSA athletic success. Soccer won the Conference USA title, football is set to host the conference championship game for the second straight season and cross country had its best finish in a decade. What has seemed to go unnoticed is our men’s tennis team, primarily the duo of Alan Magadan and Sebastian Rodriguez, who has become nationally ranked as a doubles team.

Though Rodriguez could not join the interview due to a professional competition in Chile, Magadan sat down to talk about the duo’s performance this semester and what life is like for him outside of tennis. 

The junior was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when he was 11. Magadan lived in McAllen, Texas, and went to Memorial High School during his ninth-grade year before being homeschooled the rest of high school.

“Everything was out of my hands at the beginning. I couldn’t play [Division I], so I had to go to junior college, then after that, I played one semester at Tyler College,” Magadan said.

That team went on to win nationals. Magadan capitalized on that championship by playing in a summer tournament in San Antonio. After losing in the final match and winning a cash prize, Magadan woke up with a text message which would change his collegiate path.

“I woke up with a message from my coach saying, ‘you’re unable to play at Tyler College again because you won money.’ Everything changed there because I had to study in order to play D1, and I had to find a school online or in-person that I could finish my next two semesters of JUCO,” Magadan said.

Magadan studied at home during the next two semesters and got his associate degree. While weighing his options and looking at where to attend school, Magadan felt a connection with UTSA’s head tennis coach Sergey Avdeyev, along with knowing a couple of members from the program already. Magadan was close to choosing UCF in Orlando, Florida, but it came down to being close to home.

“That was a lot of things I could have in the balance. It was closer to my parents and [home] town, just three hours away. Plus, I have a car, and three hours away is a lot closer than 22 hours to Florida,” Magadan said.

Because Magadan dropped out of school after freshman year and played in tournaments, he was forced to get his GED. After talking to coach Avdeyev and deciding to commit to UTSA this past summer, Magadan decided to major in marketing while minoring in sports management.

Magadan made an immediate impact on the tennis program at UTSA during his first semester. By knowing duo partner Sebastian Rodriguez before, the two instantly made national noise. The duo won the International Tennis Association (ITA) Texas Regional Championship by defeating three nationally ranked opponents, including No. 3 TCU, in the title match. 

“I met [Rodriguez] before, back in 2017, in a juniors tournament,” Magadan said. “It was in Columbia … I traveled by myself, he traveled by himself, so we actually shared a hotel room that week. We played doubles together … we kept in touch for a bit, followed each other on social media, then, I knew he was here at UTSA, so that changed my decisions a little bit.”

 With prior familiarity, the duo qualified for this year’s ITA Nationals, making it to the quarterfinals before losing to Utah. As of last week, the duo is ranked No. 6 in the nation. The NCAA Division I Men’s ITA Collegiate Tennis National Rankings features the Top 60 doubles teams after the fall season, and UTSA’s duo is currently the highest-ranked pair not from a Power Five conference school.

Magadan’s connection with the men’s tennis team makes the experience even better. The group pushes each other, works hard, and can be credited for the duo’s success.

“We all get along. We all work hard … everyone realizes we are able to do more things then what we think we can do. We connect inside of the court, outside of the court … we are always together,” Magadan said.

Like any sport, tennis is a mental game just as much as a physical one. Without proper focus and technique, the match can be lost before it has even started. Playing against the top competition can be a daunting task, but Magadan ensures he is mentally checked in to perform at the top level.

“To be honest, everyone plays tennis, but just a few guys understand how to play tennis,” Magadan said. “Everyone is on the line thinking they can be top-100 in the world or just another good tennis player. Everyone hits the same, everyone hits hard. But mentally wise, it’s just [about] people who get it in the head, and we are all working towards that.”

Magadan is undoubtedly a great player who works to get better. Although the McAllen native is also focused on his degree, Magadan is not preparing to end his tennis career anytime soon.

“I just want to go pro. To be honest, before stepping into UTSA, I was in a dark hole with tennis already. I got hurt six months before coming here, and I felt like I was in my prime playing tennis, Magadan said. “I didn’t know how I was going to come back with the way I was playing. I couldn’t do what I was able to do six months ago. Then I kept training and got in touch with UTSA. They made me believe again. They made me do it again, and, well, here we are. I see the light again at the end of this dark road.”

With the level the men’s tennis team is playing at, they are focused beyond the conference. The Magadan/Rodriguez duo is a top-10 pair in the nation, but focusing on the rest of the team can get the rest of the program to national exposure. When asked about his personal and team goals, Magadan did not hold back on his confidence in the team. 

“Be top in the nation, win [the] conference for the first time [in program history] and just make some big noises in nationals. I know we can do it. I’m so pumped,” Magadan said.

After the historic fall semester run, the team will rest and gear up for the spring schedule. The first competition will take place in Austin against Texas at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20.