Alexis Galarneau is now in his 5th year at NC State. The 5th year senior from Canada was named an All American last year and has his eyes set on playing professional tennis this upcoming summer. He is currently ranked 523 and has a career-high of 386 on the ATP Tour. He has had several wins over the top 150 ATP players which have given him confidence for his professional career. During this interview, we talked about his early love for the sport, challenges, and memories during college, his goals for this year, his mindset going into each match, what he would title a book about tennis, and his favorite thing about the U.S and Canada. Make sure to read the whole interview and watch the video to see how he gets pumped during matches!
- When did you start playing tennis and fall in love with the sport?
I started playing tennis when I was 8 years old. My older siblings started playing before me and I got into the sport the second summer I started watching them play. I would say I fell in love the summer I started.
- What was your junior career like? How do you think that prepared you for college?
I had a unique path because tennis in Montreal is not the biggest priority. My parents had to make a bunch of sacrifices for me to train and compete. I went to the national center to train and had to travel 3 months out of the year. It prepared me well for college because I got to experience new cultures and compete in many different places.
- At what point in your life did you know you wanted to play college tennis in the U.S?
December of my last year of high school. I am the type of person that when having a goal that is all I think about. I had to reflect and be realistic, so I decided to go to college. When you train at the national training center your goal is to go professional. So I went a different path.
- Can you share your recruiting process with us?
I graduated high school early so a lot of college coaches did not know I was looking to go to college in 2016. That gave me a chance to contact coaches that I was interested in. I wanted to play competitive schools and play high in the lineup. I visited Loyola Marymount and was interested in Florida and Indiana as well. I knew NC State was right for me though.
- What has been your biggest challenge at NC state?
During my freshman year, I had a difficult time taking classes in English. I went to a French school in Canada so it was an adjustment.
- What does your weekly schedule look like?
We are in season right now so we aren’t practicing as much as in the fall. I had an individual lesson Monday morning and a team practice later. During the rest of the week, I will have team practices and a lifting schedule or a biking schedule with heart rate monitoring. After my training, I grab some food and get some treatment. During my 5th year, I have had 4 classes and only 2 require zoom meetings. I am getting another bachelor’s degree because I was too late in deciding that I wanted to come back for the 5th year.
- Can you think of a moment in your career where you wanted to give up but found a way to pull through?
I have had to deal with some injuries. During my freshman year, I had a shoulder injury that I had to play through during the spring season. During my sophomore year, I had a sports hernia and I came back from recovering too fast. I was not ready but wanted to play on a road trip. It was frustrating because I could not play at 100% but it was my fault because I did not make the best decision for myself. Now I know how to take care of my body much better, so it was a learning experience for me.
- How would you describe your team culture at NC State?
The program has changed. My freshman year we had a different coaching staff and they were great coaches but the school felt like there was a change that needed to be done. We had new coaches come in my sophomore year and they have been doing an amazing job. We have a saying called pack rising and we are building everyone’s game differently because every player is different. The coaches are bringing in guys that want to be pro so NC State is going to be getting even stronger. The team is really close. We hang out a lot but we will often have team dinners in our apartments. We are a team of 7 international guys so we have something in common there. A lot of the guys want to be pro so we get along really well. When the season comes around that is when we are the closest.
- What has been your most memorable on-court experience during college so far?
Last year we played Texas and I was able to clinch the match against Yuya Ito who was number 2 in the country at the time. We took the doubles point against Texas who was ranked number 4 in the country. We were down 1-3 in the team score and our 2 freshmen at 5 and 6 singles won to make it 3-3. It was an amazing moment because the team score became 3-3 when I won the second set. I love those types of moments and stepping up. We had a lot of fans supporting and I was happy to be able to represent NC State and it showed we had come a long way. After the win we got pizza to celebrate and I remember everyone being in an amazing mood.
- How hard of a decision was it to play a 5th year?
It was a hard decision. I had to make it in June. At that time it looked like the pro circuit was going to open up again so I decided to start working with a coach. I was really tempted to go pro and start my professional career but when August came around tournaments started getting canceled again so then I was lucky enough to be able to come back to NC State. My coaches at NC State were always open and willing to let me come back. My coaches at NC State and coaches back home have always supported me and helped me make decisions.
- Do you have any goals for your 5th year?
I would love to reach the final 4 this year in NCAA’s. Individually I would love to win the NCAA Singles title.
- What is the biggest difference you see between pro tennis and college tennis?
It is an adjustment if you did not have a chance to play pro tournaments during summers off from school. Some of the guys who come from college or juniors struggle with the level and getting used to traveling and playing each week is tough. I plan on traveling by myself and hopefully find some sponsors so I can bring my coach with me if possible.
- You have had several wins over the top 150 players, how much confidence did that give you?
It has shown me that I can recreate these results. I get my confidence from training hard and preparing myself to my best ability. When I go into my next match I do not look at my past results I look at how I have been preparing and training. These wins have been nice for my family because I want to make them proud.
- Where would you like to see yourself year-end 2021?
I do not like to put a number on goals but I think it is important to have metrics to gauge. If I could be top 200 by the end of the year that would be great but I am more focused on the work I am putting in. The results will come.
- What mindset do you have going into each match?
I tell myself that I have chances and from the preparation, I may be able to find some weaknesses and expose them when I play my opponent. That approach gives me the belief that I can beat anyone. I get away from the actual result and stay focused on the mission.
- What do you like to do for fun off of the court?
I got into the stock market and I also like to read the news so I can know what is happening around the world. I play video games and spend time with my family as well.
- What has been your most embarrassing/funny story throughout your college career?
My teammates told me to say I was from Canada during a psychology class my freshman year. The professor asked me what I would do when I went outside and it was 60 degrees out. Well, I was thinking in celsius so I said I would just go back inside because it was burning hot out. Everyone laughed because 60 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t burning hot.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself as a top 20 player in the world traveling with my coach and a physio. Hopefully, I have a girlfriend and a wife at that point. I want to have everyone enjoy the opportunity that tennis will give me.
- If you wrote a book on your tennis life, what would you title it?
“Unique Path”. That has always been my motto. That is the way I embrace my journey. If you believe in your process or path everything will align with your goals.
- What is one part of the U.S culture you like better than Canada, and vice versa?
The college experience and culture here is amazing. Everyone takes pride in their college and supports their sports teams. It is very unique for international students. I like the food better in Canada. It is fresher and it is easier to eat healthy in Canada. It requires more effort in the U.S to eat healthier.