Four years ago, Alex Maggs found himself in the desert 4,888 miles away from his home in Birmingham, England. Since then, Maggs has grown as a tennis player and a student. He finished the season on the all-conference team for his play in the doubles matches and is graduating with a GPA of 4.06.
Maggs first picked up a tennis racket when he was five years old in an after-school program. He said he tried many different activities, but it was tennis that stuck with him.
"Both of my parents worked so they couldn't come pick me up straight after school, so there were these extracurricular after-school clubs, and I did different stuff every day … Tennis was the one I would do every week and I really enjoyed it," Maggs said.
In the fall, Albuquerque hosted a M15 tournament from the International Tennis Federation's World Tennis Tour. Maggs participated as a wildcard because UNM hosted the event. Maggs went on to win the doubles section tournament. It was his first professional title as a player, but winning exceeded his own expectations of what he was capable of.
"That was amazing for me,” Maggs said.“That is now one of my greatest memories in tennis so far … in the beginning of the week I did not expect to win it, I was hoping to get some points on the board and get on the world rankings but definitely didn't expect to win it … I guess with that mindset and mentality we ended up playing the best match we've ever played, probably the best match I've ever played."
The tournament victory opened up more opportunities for Maggs, and he will continue to try to play professionally but plans to be around tennis no matter what.
"Since winning the M15, my mindset has changed and I want to play more tennis,” Maggs said. “I saw that it was possible to compete in those tournaments and be able to do well in them … The short-term plan is to keep playing professionally as long as I can. After that I would like to work in sports in tennis in some aspect."
With a 4.06 GPA, Maggs credited his dedication to his parents who pushed him to not neglect his education while still being dedicated to the sport.
"In high school it was a bit of a struggle for me, I won't lie. I did really well until I was 16 then those last two years I kind of let it slip … For me, I always want to do well in everything I do,” Maggs said. “I wanted to get good grades for myself and also for my parents and my family because they sent me halfway across the world and spent money for me. I wanted to make them proud."
In high school he started to get scouted by universities, but he came to Albuquerque because of connections he had made during a tournament.
"The head coach (of UNM) at the time was English, and I met him in the summer when I was 16, and I actually played against him in a doubles match. There is this tournament every single summer where you represent the country and region that you're from. So I got to play against him and an actual Lobo, one of his players that was from the same area,” Maggs said. “I lost the match but he obviously thought I was decent enough.”
Head coach, Chris Russell, commented on Maggs’ growth as a tennis player and as a person.
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“Alex has become a very valuable part of what we are trying to become on the court,” Russell said. “His singles improved significantly with an 8-1 team season record. In doubles he was all-conference. He has become an incredible influence on the rest of the team with his mature, positive approach. He is a very hard worker as well.”
Russell also said that Maggs has been invaluable to the team’s culture. He and the team will try to get Maggs to stay after graduation and use his extra year of eligibility that was granted to student athletes who were in college during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
“As for his effect on our culture, I have not had a team member who leads as well as he has in my 30-plus years of coaching college tennis. He has been a tremendous liaison between the coaches and the team. He shows up every day ready to try and get better. In the process, he brings others up. Without his presence and leadership there is no way we would be where we are today,” Russell said.
Maggs said traveling is a big part of his life, and he wants to go to Machu Picchu, as well as Singapore, his father’s birthplace. He said he won't turn down any adventures and wants to see the whole world. Outside of tennis, Maggs enjoys other sports such as basketball.
Maggs said he would have told his younger self to make the most of everything.
"I would probably tell myself to make the most out of everything, even the bad experiences,” Maggs said. “Don't let them freak you out too much. Remember them and use them to learn … Things have gotten a lot better for me over time — things were rough at the start for tennis and stuff. Just stay patient, stay resilient, keep working. Enjoy every moment because it's gone by so fast.”
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10