Acing Alex

Meet Alexander Hagiu, senior and co-captain of the Stuyvesant Hitmen!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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By Geoffrey Huang

Name: Alexander Hagiu

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’ 7”

Hair Color: Black

Eye Color: Brown

Date of Birth: 09/08/2005

  1. When and how did you start playing tennis? How long have you been on the Hitmen, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity tennis team?

I started when I was around four, so basically about as long as I can remember. If I recall correctly, […] my parents decided to take me to a few classes at Queens College, like the free public classes, and I really liked them. We sort of just continued from there, and I guess here we are now. As for how long I’ve been on the Hitmen, I tried out [in my] freshman year and made the team, but either way, the season was canceled due to COVID. So then I started sophomore year.

  1. Do you prefer to play singles or doubles?

Doubles, absolutely doubles. In singles, it feels like there’s so much more pressure on you. In doubles, you feel like you have a partner that you can [rely on]. So it’s more of a team effort rather than just being alone on the court. I really thrive a lot more when I’m working in a team, which is also why I like high school tennis matches a lot more than traditional tournament matches because it just feels like it’s just you out on the court, whereas in high school tennis, you have the fact that you’re playing for the team and not just yourself.

  1. What is your most memorable/proud moment with the Hitmen?

I’m definitely proud of my win record last season because it was 8-1. I’d say that I’m proud of each match that season individually. I play matches not as if every match is the final point and everything’s resting on it, but more like, “Alright, I won this match, now what’s next?” And, yeah, it always leads to being more proud of the whole, cumulative thing, rather than a specific match or something. But I would say one of my matches against Bronx Science, where we were pretty close, [is] probably my favorite. And it was nerve-wracking because I was absolutely having an off day and my shots weren’t coming out the way I wanted to. But the score stayed tight between us. [...] So yeah, it was [nerve-wracking], right until the end, in which we won 10-8 in the tiebreaker.

  1. What is your strategy for constantly improving yourself (specific workouts, exercises, mentality, practices, classes, etc.)?

So when I go to a class at the [United States Tennis Association] (USTA), it’s a very large group. So you don’t really get to get too much improvement on specific areas of your game. It’s more to test a new strategy or a new idea that was described to you at some point to see how well it does. Usually, the trainers will give one or two pointers [...] and you can improve it from there. Really, I think I improved the most with my private coach, who I meet once a week. With him, we really just start [by] warming up, and [then] he points out what I seem to need to improve on, and we work on that. Then I go to the Lacoste Academy and USTA and play there to try to put it into practice while I’m playing other people. [If] all else fails and I’m by myself, I just try to remember what I was told, and, if worst comes to worst, we can always improvise.

  1. What are your short-term and long-term goals you’d like to accomplish going into season?

Long term, I want to help the team win the banner this year, absolutely. Short term, I want to make the practices a lot more organized. I want to get it to be running sort of like a well-oiled machine.

  1. Do you have any plans to continue the sport in the future or in college? 

Yes, I did talk with a few coaches for college tennis. The school I am specifically looking at is the team for Hunter College. I have met with the coach, met with the team, and they seem pretty nice. I definitely want to keep playing tennis and keep it in my life even after I graduate.

  1. Do you have any pre-match superstitions or rituals?

Now that I think about it, I should have some or something to get me in the mood, but I don’t. What I [always make sure to do], though, is [watch] my diet. Before [matches and practices], I eat a ton of carbs [and] a ton of protein, the classic. But other than that, I just do my stretches like normal and then head on to the court, do a warm up, get ready, and just start playing.

  1. Do you have a specific warm-up routine? What is it? 

I just use the entire warmup routine my trainer from Lacoste showed me. First, I do [an] RDL, which is basically a lunge and twist. You’re on one leg, you lean forward, then you put your arms out and it just really stretches multiple muscles in your leg and the back part of your leg. It also helps with balance. Then I do some heel grabs, a few sprints, and that’s basically it. That’s the general idea; I do change it up sometimes.

  1. What are the best and worst parts of tennis? 

One of the best parts of tennis is just the sheer amount of adrenaline you have on the court. You’ll be playing, and you want to get to every ball. There is not a single ball that you do not want to chase down. And I really like the rush because it makes me feel like I’m giving my all on the court. Another part that I really like is when I get off the court knowing that I played my best. Even if I lost my match, but I played my absolute best, I can’t be mad about that because I know I put everything out on the court. One thing I don’t like about tennis is if you’re not playing doubles, you feel very isolated out on the court. Off the court, you have your whole team, like your friends, your family, [your] physio, your coach, and everything. But on the court, it’s just you and only you. In high school tennis, the team really helps deal with the problem of feeling isolated, because even in singles, when you’re playing, if you have two, three people cheering for you on the sides, you don’t feel so alone on the court anymore. You feel like you’re playing for somebody else, not just yourself.

  1. Do you have a service routine? If so, what is it?

No, not really. The only thing that ever stays consistent is the fact that I bounce the ball three times before I serve it. Actually not having a routine is kind of helpful because I really end up making my decision on where I’m going to serve on the spot, right as I’m about to start the motion, so my opponent doesn’t have time to guess where I am going to serve based on the actions I do.

Funniest Teammate: Nicholas Oh

Favorite Professional Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal

Favorite Tennis Tournament: U.S. Open

Playing on Full or Light Stomach: Light Stomach

Favorite Sports Drink: Yellow Gatorade

Favorite Post-Match Snack: Whatever I can get my hands on

Favorite Hobby: Finding cool hidden websites, learning about psychology

If You Could Play One Other Sport: European Football (Soccer)

Motto to Live By: If it happens, it happens.

Fun Fact: Every summer I read a famous tennis player’s book and try to have it autographed. I own books written and signed by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic, etc.

Tennis Shoe Brand: Adidas

Tennis Racket: Wilson