From the court to the hall: The Erick Siquiera story
Eric Boyd | Sports Editor | Oct. 9, 2019
Former standout tennis player Erick Siquiera will be inducted into the GC Athletics Hall of Fame on Nov. 2.
For Siquiera, the induction marks the culmination of a long, incredible journey.
“This means the world to me because of all the sacrifices my parents made for me growing up,” Siquiera said. “I want this to be a tribute to them and all the things they went through.”
It would be beyond the confines of a great player’s mindset to say they expected to reach something as illustrious as the hall of fame.
Inherent to the qualities that made Siquiera a great tennis player is a certain humbleness. When he was a player, that humility forced him to focus on one game at a time.
The byproduct of such short-term focus was Siquiera never stopped to reflect on the scope of what he had been accomplishing. As such, his induction caught him by surprise.
“It’s one of those things you play and play and play and you never expect something like this to happen,” Siquiera said. “It never crossed my mind.”
His mind had to have been deeply entrenched in the Nick Saban School of Athlete PR because his list of accolades reads as long as a CVS receipt.
The astonishing list of awards Siquiera compiled in his career would threaten to strip the hall of its merit had it denied him entry.
Over the course of his career, he was an Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American for singles three times, an ITA All-American for doubles once, all Peach Belt Conference for singles three times, all PBC for doubles three times and the PBC Player of the Year in 2009.
Gaudy. Accounts differ on the talent level Siquiera possessed in obtaining those awards.
By account of Men’s Head Tennis Coach Steve Barsby, Siquiera oozed greatness from the moment he arrived on campus.
Siquiera’s humility rears its head upon giving his account.
“I always felt that the PBC was really strong and it had a lot of players more naturally talented than I was,” Siquiera said. “PBC Player of the Year was one of the peaks for me because it came totally as a surprise.”
Perspectives on Siquiera’s talent may vary, but there is no dissent when it comes to his work ethic.
“His work ethic was unbelievable,” Barsby said. “Since then, I’ve always told my guys the ones that have won first team all-conference and all-american nine times out of ten are the hardest workers on the team.”
Insight into the magnitude of Siquiera’s induction demands knowledge of his career’s origin.
He came to GC from Brazil. Instantly, he felt a sense of community and knew he made the correct decision.
There were already several Brazilian players on the team and a Brazilian host family waiting for him, so Siqueira had resources to diminish the culture shock.
“He was wondering ‘How do I get a taxi? How do I ride the city transit?’ and I had to tell him ‘No, we don’t have that here—we walk,’” Barsby said.
GC embraced Siquiera immediately.
On his first day of classes, he got lost looking for the bookstore. A teammate found him and decided to be late for his next class so he could walk Siquiera to the bookstore.
His teammate and roommate, Justin Pickham, would stay after practice with Siquiera and feed him balls to help him with the things he needed to work on.
Coach Barsby invited Siquiera to his house for dinner on his first night in America and did his patriotic duty by teaching him how to play Texas Hold ‘em.
In a brand new environment, the tennis court seemed to be the only constant.
“The tennis court became a refuge for me,” Siquiera said.
As he became more comfortable with the language and environment in his sophomore year, his on-court play exploded.
“He just realized how good he was,” Barsby said.
Siquiera toyed with opponents in much the same way a cat toys with a mouse.
He almost always had control, and he patiently waited for the perfect moment to strike .
He was not phenomenal at any one particular thing, but there were zero gaps in his game. He possessed technical precision to the point where he never beat himself.
If he lost a game, it meant his opponent truly deserved it and fought tooth and nail to earn it.
If we only enjoy the result, we lose sight of how to get the result. – Erick Siquiera
“Most guys that played him would get a little desperate because he was so good, so they’d take risks,” Barsby said. “Erick would wait and wear them out until they beat themselves.”
The perpetrator of such savage playstyle wore a smile on his face while launching his opponents into desperation and later oblivion.
“My mindset was don’t worry about the result—just have fun and enjoy the process,” Siquiera said. “If we only enjoy the result, we lose sight of how to get the result.”
Tearing through opponents and racking up awards was cool for Siquiera. None of it became special until he got to share it with his family.
It was not until his senior season in his last tournament that his family could fly out from Brazil to watch him play.
Playing in front of them meant the world to Siquiera.
“You don’t realize the sacrifices your parents make for you until it’s all behind you,” Siquiera said. “It’s always meant the world to accomplish this or that on the court, but when I could share it with my family, it was multiplied by 100.”
Getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is cool, but it is not special.
For Siquiera, special is sitting at the table with his family, who sacrificed so much to get him where he is today, when his name gets called.
Special is taking his three-year-old daughter to Milledgeville, where he made so many memories, and letting his heart melt as she looks at his home for the first time.
Nov. 2 will cement the legacy of a player whose on-court dominance was inexplicably overshadowed by his capacity towards being a good person.
“When I think back on Erick, I do not remember a ton of the results because he was such a good guy I remember laughing on the bus and hanging out at practice,” Barsby said.