Verona, Italy—a city rich in history and well known for being romantic by nature served as the birth place of both William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Eddy Leardini, one of five international tennis players to represent Oral Roberts University.
The four-time regional title winner, two-time north area winner and Pentathlon National Title holder has journeyed to the United States in pursuit of a dream that started during his childhood and continues to manifest with age.
“America is something you just dream about since you are five years old in Europe,” said Leardini. “You start with the movies, then with the TV series’ and breath-taking places and then you finish with the food and the traditions.”
It’s all here; a place, when coupled with the young Italian’s thirst of exploring new places and meeting people and learning more, where the possibilities seem endless. A university that is known by Complex magazine as the worst party school in the U.S. may not seem the normal situation for someone who dreamed of coming into American culture.
“I heard about ORU through the coach. We were in contact and I saw there was a really good program correlated with my chemical and biological interest, I was interested,” said Leardini.
“Plus, a Christian school could help me stay focused,” he continued. “A place where I can at the same time study something I really like and play a sport that is a big part of my life—I am living my dream right now.”
However, twenty-one-year-old Leardini hasn’t always been sure of his future or what his passion would become.
“Initially, [playing tennis] started like a joke because I was really pretty fat, and my parents pushed me to choose between soccer and tennis,” said Leardini.
When asked if he remembered that day, Eddy smiled and said, “Yeah, I was five and I was really willing to play soccer without too many doubts, and then, I do not know how or why, but the word ‘tennis’ came out from my mouth. I was shocked because I did not expect to say something I was not really thinking about. I guess it was faith, or God.”
That decision, regardless of the outcome, was designed to escape the ordinary. He added that coming to the United States wasn’t an easy transition. In fact, not only was it difficult for him to adjust to the culture and languages, but playing tennis was radically different.
“At home, tennis is more individual while here everything is more centered around the team and achieving a collective win. Which is great, but at home you don’t play more than four singles and two doubles per game. Which unfortunately can last for a whole day since each match can take up to more than three hours,” he said. “But we don’t have facilities as incredible as the Americans, so that makes up for it.”