Unique may be an overused word, but in the case of Mt. Lebanon’s Callie Frey, it’s the perfect choice.
Frey, a University of Pittsburgh tennis player, is the only senior on the roster. She’s the only player with local ties. She’s the only player from the state of Pennsylvania. And, get this, she’s the only player from the United States.
Her teammates come from around the globe from countries such as Spain, Cyprus, Japan, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil. Her coach, Alex Santos, is a native of Portugal. Santos says he’s proud to have a local player on his mostly international roster.
“I think that Callie is a good ambassador for tennis,” he says. “She represents the Pitt brand, and she understands the responsibility that comes with that. She fully understands what I’m looking for as a coach, and the others see that.”
“It is very cool being the only American and only senior,” says Frey. “It is definitely fun that I can learn from them. I also have taught
them a lot of stuff too.”
Frey always knew she wanted to play college tennis. She comes from a tennis family, and her older brother Ehren starred at Washington & Jefferson College.
As a youngster, she consistently placed in the top three in the USTA’s Middle States rankings. During her high school career, she won two WPIAL singles titles and was runner-up at the PIAA Championships. She finished her career at Lebo with a phenomenal record of 119-12. Her talent caught the eye of Santos, who recruited her.
“I always heard the saying that if you want to be a good tennis player, you have to develop a strong passion for the sport,” says Santos. “Callie has that, and Mt. Lebanon is a great tennis community. I felt that Callie wanted to be close to her friends and family, and she really wanted to come to Pitt.”
“It’s obviously so cool to go to school so close to home,” said Frey. “When I made my decision, Pitt was transitioning into the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), and I knew that I wanted to compete in the ACC.”
To Frey, the advantages of playing for Pitt have been endless. “So there are a few things,” she says.
“On the weekend, if I want to get away from campus, I can go home. The biggest thing is the support that I get from family. They will come out and cheer for us at our matches.”
Her senior season has seen singles victories against teams such as Penn State, Morgan State and Boston College. And in doubles, she along with teammate Camila Moreno, have been nationally ranked, tallying up multiple victories this season.
Now her tennis and academic career at Pitt is coming to a close, and that will be bittersweet.
“It will be emotional,” says Frey. “On that day, there will be a lot of tears. We (Coach Santos) are more close than ever. He has helped me in all of our years together. It will be very hard for me.”
“It will be bittersweet,” agrees Santos. “She does what she is supposed to do on and off the court. She’ll be moving to bigger and better things, but it will be sad. I will miss her and miss being with her on match day.”
After graduation, Frey plans on taking a gap year and then perhaps attend law school. That should give her some time to take in some of her favorite tastes at local restaurants like Little Tokyo and Mad Mex and enjoy other things about the hometown she clearly loves.
“When I talk to people about living in the South Hills, I tell all of them that Mt. Lebanon is the place to move to,” says Frey. “It always comes down to the people.”