Lakeland Tennis Star signs with Mississippi State
By Matt Wright
Roberto Guimaraes took my call on a Friday afternoon and politely explained his background and how it led to him signing a scholarship to play tennis at Mississippi State University. After 5 minutes, I could tell the young tennis star would be successful on the court but just as well off the court.
Mr. Guimaraes, who has lived in Lakeland since 2014 with his family, is a senior at Memphis University School, but his journey to becoming a varsity athlete is a bit unusual. “My parents are immigrants,” he told me. “They met while studying English at the University of Memphis,” he said. His father is Mexican and his mother Brazilian, but the love of tennis came naturally. “My dad was a state champion tennis player in Mexico and he started teaching me very early on,” he said. “He and I actually practice together quite often on the Lakeland tennis courts.”
Roberto’s list of accomplishments in the field is quite impressive and this is what made it so difficult for Mississippi State to recruit Roberto. Roberto won the USTA State and Southern Junior Championships in the Under-16 Division and recently made back-to-back Winter and Summer Southern Championship Finals in the Under-18 Division. . He has also won several USTA tournaments, and he has qualified and played in exclusive national tournaments like the prestigious Orange Bowl and Kalamazoo tournaments. He also competed and represented Tennessee State in tag team events like the Ozaki Cup. Most impressive of all, Roberto was ranked number 1 on the USTA Jr. rankings for Tennessee in multiple age categories. He is also currently ranked number one in Tennessee as well as number 30 in the Southeast and number 40 in the nation for his age.
Mr. Guimaraes, considered a five-star national recruit, was also heavily recruited by the University of Memphis and Liberty University. But he said the opportunity to play SEC tennis in a high-profile program with a high-performance culture was just too hard to pass up. “They have such good facilities and a lot of resources,” he said. “The coaches are great and the guys (players) mix well. They work hard and expect a lot from each other, but they also have fun.
Once Roberto completes his final year with MUS next spring, he will head to Starkville in hopes of contributing immediately. “Yes sir, that was another reason for my decision to choose State. It looks like I will be playing singles and doubles in the first year. It will be hard work, but I am excited. According to a press release from Mississippi State head tennis coach Matt Roberts said Roberto is “driven, loves adversity and loves a challenge. It will flourish in our culture.