NCAA Mens Tennis

From the courts of Portugal to the courts of Blacksburg

From the courts of Portugal to the courts of Blacksburg

Virginia Tech men’s tennis seniors Hugo Maia and Manuel Goncalves have a story unlike any other.

From meeting at the age of 8 at a tennis tournament in Portugal to playing doubles together at the Division I level, the two truly have a unique bond that runs far deeper than the tennis court.


Hugo Maia, originally from Braga, Portugal, began playing tennis at the young age of 4 years old after being exposed to the sport through his parents. Maia has been a standout player for the Hokies since his time wearing the maroon and orange began in 2020, appearing in 22 singles matches and 10 doubles matches in his freshman season.


“When I was younger, I did pretty well in the tournaments, so I just kept playing because the results were good,” Maia said. “When it came to a college decision, it helped that I knew Portuguese people here and they all had really good things to say about it, so I eventually chose Virginia Tech.”


His senior year, Maia secured a starting position on court three/four in singles and eventually earned a spot in the doubles lineup with partner-in-crime Manuel Gonçalves. In singles, Maia would go to upset No. 117 Luciano Tacchi of Wake Forest and secure a three-set victory against Chase Thompson of Notre Dame to help secure Tech’s come-from-behind win. Maia ended his senior season tied with teammate Alberto Orso for the most singles wins on the team (11).


Manuel Gonçalves, a Porto, Portugal native, began his tennis journey at the age of 3. Gonçalves transferred to Virginia Tech after playing two seasons at USF. After overcoming an injury at the beginning of his senior season, Gonçalves would get back into the doubles lineup, playing on court three with Maia.


When asked why he was drawn to make the move from USF to Virginia Tech, Gonçalves said that it was due to the community environment of the school, along with previous successes of Portuguese people at the university.


Gonçalves and Maia grew up a few towns apart in Northern Portugal, eventually meeting at a tennis tournament when they were only 8 years old.


“I remember playing him once when we were 8 at his club a long time ago,” Gonçalves said. “[Hugo] was always a little more competitive than I was.”


The two would play with and against each other throughout their lives at various tournaments across Europe, growing their competitive relationship and friendship.
“Our relationship was always very healthy,” Gonçalves…

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