Athletics have a special way of bringing people together, and that proved to be the case for Rochelle Township High School senior tennis player Gabriel Nava.
A four-year netter for the Hubs, Nava went out for tennis his freshman year in hopes that he and his friends could spend more time together after school. What resulted were many new bonds Nava formed, not only with his current friends, but with his new teammates.
“I wanted to try something new, so my friends and I went out for the team and we wound up liking tennis a lot,” Nava said. “We used tennis as a way to hang out after school and have a good time together. An important lesson I learned from being a part of the RTHS tennis program is that, even though I may not have all the same interests as my teammates, it’s important to look past those differences and appreciate everybody for who they are.”
Nava played on the fresh-soph team over his first two seasons, eventually earning varsity matches across his upperclassman years. He was on one of three doubles pairs that earned victories when Rochelle defeated Streator on Senior Night in 2019. Primarily a doubles asset for the Hubs, Nava also contributed to wins against Rockford East and Marengo, and the senior would have been one of Rochelle’s top returning varsity players this spring.
“What I enjoyed most were all of the people I met throughout my four years with the team,” Nava said. “Even though we all went to the same high school, we hadn’t really met each other before tennis, and tennis was how we built friendships and learned about each other… Playing tennis at RTHS helped me stay responsible by keeping my grades up, and I learned how to play with a lot of different people. I always tried to learn something from each match.”
Nava said he aims to attend college and work in order to pay for his schooling. He said he’s considering studying architecture or automotive technology, and he said he hopes to pursue a career in whichever field he chooses to continue his education in.
“My favorite memories with the team were when I was able to play with my friends and when I had the opportunity to win medals,” Nava said. “I enjoyed the bus rides back from our meets. when we would stop for food and eat on the bus while we listened to music. We always laughed and had a good time the whole ride back to the high school.”