The son of a Spanish father and an Indonesian mother, the 20-year-old combines his Communication and Digital Media studies in Segovia with his passion for the sport.
A boy just five years old watches his father play tennis from a distance, his face full of admiration. He has just discovered the sport that will become his life’s passion. That moment happened in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia and the fourth most populous city in the world. That was more than fifteen years ago now. “I was watching my father, who played tennis for fun. It really caught my attention and I wanted to try that fascinating sport.”
Enrique García Diroatmodjo, who has a Spanish father and an Indonesian mother, now lives very far from the incredible island of Java. He lives in Segovia, where he studies Communication and Digital Media at IE University. Despite the passage of time, his passion for tennis is more alive than ever. He is convinced that this predilection for sports is largely due to the fact that his father Alfonso García—who became an Olympic judoka representing Spain—imparted the value of sport for personal growth to his children.
Those who have seen Enrique García play tennis confirm that he does it very well. He certainly has the makings of professional tennis player: he is young, tall and slim with an athletic build. Enrique García picked up a racket for the first time in Jakarta when he was just eight. There, he started to train at a local club with other kids his age. He played his first tournament at just 10 years old, and won his first national competition in Indonesia when he was 14. “I was good at tennis and they began putting me in higher levels. I started to take it seriously and was training hard almost every day of the week,” he says.
In Indonesia, the young IE University student won a handful of competitions in various categories and came in 21st place in the under-18 ranking of tennis players in the country. Also, he used to spend summers in Bilbao, where most of his father’s family lives, and would make the most of his time there to take part in local competitions. “In Spain I got quite far in some tournaments, and won a few trophies,” he says with pride.
By: Roberto Arribas
A hard sport
For Enrique, tennis is “one of the most complete sports that exist; it enriches you in an incredible way.” He explains, “I don’t know any book or teacher that teaches values such as perseverance, tenacity and effort in the same way tennis does.” It is a very hard sport, he stresses, because “if your mood is low or you don’t have enough mental strength, it shows in your game, unlike in other team sports, where you have teammates to help you”.
At 15, Enrique’s desire to become a professional player vanished. He thought it over for a long time, but began to think it wasn’t worth the constant effort and personal sacrifice that professional tennis requires. Nevertheless, for the next three years, he continued competing at a high level, always putting his studies first.
The young Spaniard finished his high school studies at the Jakarta Intercultural School, a prestigious international school in the Indonesian capital. Five months before graduation, he had already left tennis behind, with no plans to go back to it. At that stage Enrique thought it would be a good choice to study at an American university where he could get a scholarship for under-18 players, who, even though they have a good level of tennis, do not want to be professionals or run the risk of missing university to play tennis professionally. So he packed his suitcases and moved to Los Angeles to study Business Administration. “I spent a year in the US. The university was very good, but I wasn’t happy, I realized that that wasn’t what I wanted to study—I felt like I was missing something”, says Enrique, who confesses that “at nineteen, I was pretty lost.”
At the time, his family sent him information about other universities with the idea of encouraging him to pursue a new goal. His father always wanted him to study in Spain and they told him about the degree in Communication and Digital Media taught entirely in English at IE University. “At the beginning I didn’t want to hear anything about it, but when I saw the IE program it seemed interesting, it seemed like it was made for me,” says Enrique. “I realized that this degree could satisfy my creative side and develop my innate abilities,” he adds. “People who know me always told me I was good at writing and public speaking.” Little by little, Enrique gained confidence. He had enough determination to tackle a new challenge, this time in Spain.
By: Roberto Arribas
A big change
When he arrived in Segovia, he thought it would be hard to adapt, as he was used to big cities like Los Angeles and Jakarta with their more than 10 million inhabitants. “It was a huge change, although maybe that was what I needed at that time to find myself and come back to tennis.”
He has been studying in Segovia since September, and says he feels quite at home there. He has begun playing his favorite sport again, at the IE tennis club and the Espacio Tierra tennis school in Segovia province, in the town of La Lastrilla. Enrique feels very comfortable at Espacio Tierra since he trains with good players who are getting great results at the regional and national levels. Ángel de Marcos, one of the club’s owners, noticed the IE University student and invited him to train with them. “I’m really excited about tennis now. I’m going to wait until the beginning of the year to get my federation license and compete with them if possible,” he says.
In Segovia, Enrique has found a perfect place to study what he likes and pursue his great passion for tennis. “The pace of life here is very comfortable. Also, all my friends are very close by, at most fifteen minutes away, something which is unthinkable in a city like Jakarta,” says Enrique, who truly feels like a tennis player again. We’re glad to hear it.