Interview | Raul Smego

The senior tennis star on Drew’s winning streak, brotherly rivals and his family of physicians.

Photo by Bill Cardoni

Smego finished his Drew career with a 23–2 record in the Landmark Conference. Photo by Bill Cardoni.

By Christopher Hann

This season you won your third straight Landmark Conference Player of the Year award. Was that a goal of yours going into the season? No. I didn’t think I was going to get it, because I was injured at the beginning of the season. But it wasn’t a goal. It never is.

The team won 110 straight conference matches before losing to Scranton in April, then beat Scranton to win its 13th straight conference championship. How did the team maintain such a high level of play for so long? I think it has to do with the seniors and upperclassmen and recently graduated alumni who were part of the team. They still cheer us on and come to our matches. And the coach [Jeff Brandes] doesn’t take any match lightly. Before every conference match, he motivates us so that we don’t take anything for granted.

Your older brother, Elliott, played with you for three years at Drew. Growing up in Puerto Rico, how intense was your rivalry? We never wanted to lose. As much as there was a rivalry, we always enjoyed playing each other.

Do you still remember the first time you beat him? I actually do because when we were younger he used to beat me. He was bigger, stronger, better. I finally had a growth spurt. That was the hardest match, to finally beat him.

I understand you come from a family of physicians. My mom, father, grandmother, grandfather and uncle are all doctors. My grandma was an anesthesiologist. My grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon. My mom is a clinical researcher with a specialty in internal medicine. My dad is an internist with a specialty in infectious disease. My uncle is a pediatric anesthesiologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

I’m guessing you’d like to be a doctor. I majored in biology. I’m going to Brown this fall for a one-year master’s in public health. Hopefully I’ll be applying to med school after that.

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