Jan. 10, 2013
By Summer Gilhousen
At only age nine, Michael Rinaldi was destined to play tennis. With tennis naturally running through his veins, a young Michael desired to follow in his professional tennis playing aunt's footsteps.
"I played a lot of other sports before tennis but I wanted to play a more individual sport and challenge myself," says Rinaldi as he reflects back on why he chose to play tennis. "Also, my aunt Kathy Rinaldi was a professional who reached a career high ranking of 6 in the world. She also helped with my decision."
Challenge himself he did. Growing up can be tough, growing up as an athlete can be tougher, but Rinaldi was inspired by his role model, his dad.
"My dad is my role model," reveals the Palm City, Fla., native, "He has taught me so much about becoming a man from a young age and being successful."
Not only did he learn to be a man from his father but also learned to be a college athlete. It was not rare in Rinaldi's family for one to become a college athlete. With a grandfather, uncle and dad as student-athletes, it was finally Michael's turn to step up to the plate. But why Florida State University? After visiting the University in fall 2011, the recruit felt he found his place.
"I liked the coaching staff and the guys on the team were all fun to be around," said the freshman. "It seemed like a good fit for me. I love the state of Florida and couldn't imagine being anywhere else."
This past fall, the freshman's FSU tennis career kicked off with competing in the Bedford Cup, ITA All-American Championships, USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Championships and USTA Clay Court Invitational at Disney. From the tough college practices to the competitive matches, the rookie's game quickly improved.
Making it into the singles main draw of the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Championships and winning the Doubles Semifinal in the USTA Clay Court Invitational at Disney, Rinaldi ended the fall season with a 6-6 singles record and a 7-4 doubles record.
However, not only did the freshman have to adjust to the demanding college level tennis schedule, he also had to adjust to the demanding college level student schedule as well.
"It gets tough sometimes," admitted Rinaldi. "I think I am doing a good job so far. Being a student-athlete is a lot of fun but hard work at the same time. It makes school a little bit tougher sometimes because of the schedule, but it has its many upsides as well."
Going into this spring semester and tennis season, Rinaldi keeps his positive attitude.
"Although the first semester took time to adjust to everything," expresses the freshman. "I now feel more comfortable and ready to a good rest of the year."
This season Rinaldi hopes to play like his favorite tennis player, Rodger Federer, who he claims "is the most talented tennis player ever and when he plays he makes difficult tasks look effortless."
By doing so, he hopes to be an All-American and help lead the FSU Men's Tennis Team in winning an ACC title.