Before seeing Spain play everything against Serbia, we took the opportunity to learn the story of Alejandro Melero, sparring partner of the Spanish Davis Cup team. Born in Mallorca, almost two meters tall and with a joy typical of someone who dreams of taking over the world.
Alejandro Melero (Mallorca, 2005) is so long that he is even a little embarrassed to talk about it. “I will be at 1’96m or 1’97m”says what is possibly the tallest player in the history of Spanish tennis. I find him with Break Point It takes place in the press room, where one day he dreams of being a protagonist in the Davis cup. At the moment, at 18 years old, he has to be a sparring partner within the team. David Ferrer, a unique opportunity to soak up the knowledge and skills of your colleagues. In 2024 he will look to make the leap to professional, but first he will have to deal with this first interview.
Official sparring partner of the Spanish Davis Cup team. Sounds good!
Sounds really good! I am very happy with the experience, it is something very nice to experience, but I hope to return one day as an official player of the team. The treatment here is incredible, I have no words to describe it. It has been an opportunity that the RFET has given me to experience a dream.
What are you learning?
Many things, but I would highlight the players’ habits: being punctual, eating well, training focused on each ball, etc. I am learning a lot from David (Ferrer), he left tennis practically not long ago, my first training with him was like being in shock. As the days go by I’m gaining more trust with them, so everything is going super well.
The other day, during training, I noticed that everyone was coming up to you to give you some correction. It shouldn’t be easy either.
The first day was like that, I was so tense that I couldn’t even move (laughs). Of course, David comes to you and he tells you: ‘Mele, from the first ball you have to be focused‘. The feeling at that moment is that you can’t play, your legs stop from the tension (laughs). Now that a few days have passed I feel calmer, we discuss more things. If David comes now or Roberto (Bautista) comes it is much more in confidence, everything they tell me is for my good, to grow and improve my tennis. I take his advice in the best way possible.
‘Hazing’ topic. Have they messed you up?
They have tried.
They almost made me come down dressed in a suit to a normal dinner. It wouldn’t have looked bad either, but it would have been laughable. But hey, there’s still a lot of week left, we’ll see…
This season we have seen you competing in the Junior Grand Slam, another experience to remember.
It has been incredible, something unique. In fact, I’m not going back. It is true that the results have not been very favorable either, but the fact of having put myself in the shoes of some professionals who competed on those same tracks already makes it an indescribable experience.
Any encounter that left you speechless?
With Carlitos (Alcaraz), likewise. We were all in the same locker room: Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Sinner, Ruud or suddenly Novak Djokovic coming out of the bathroom while I was going to the shower (laughs). They are surreal moments.
In January you will turn 19, are you ready to make the jump to the Futures?
Of course, I’m ready to start playing the 15,000 and 25,000 Futures tournaments regularly, whatever comes along. I see myself at a level, what I need to improve will be covered over time, although it doesn’t have to be right now. I have to be demanding with myself, it’s good to have that ambition of wanting to get up there, but you have to be patient until that moment comes.
How much patience does it take to not compare yourself to Alcaraz?
Carlitos’ thing is different, it’s like a magical touch. A sorcerer has come and touched him on the head with his wand, he is unique, a very special player. Here I am meeting players like Zapata, Ramos or Bautista who are super workers, people who from minute one have had to work like real crazy people until they reach the top 100. This is how they have made a living.
Tell me a little about your work structure.
Right now I train with Juan Lizariturry and Juan Alberto Viloca, in addition to my physical trainer, Quim. I have been at the TEC in Barcelona for two and a half years, a gigantic project with very high objectives. We are getting very good players to come out of there, the atmosphere there is unbeatable.
You are from Mallorca, do you miss it?
It is not very far, but Mallorca will always be my island, I love it very much, it is a privilege to live there. I admit that I don’t like the traffic in Barcelona at all (laughs), but it is a city that has a lot of charm. In the end it is a very emblematic city, you do not lack anything.
The thing about your island with tennis is another question of witchcraft…
There is a lot of grip on tennis, we are very fans of the sport, as can be seen with Don Rafael Nadal.
Moyá, Nadal, Munar… you could be the next link.
I would like to, honestly (laughs). With work, effort and dedication anything is possible. In the end you may not arrive, no one can guarantee that, but at least you can rest assured that you have given your 100%.
Besides tennis, do you have any other occupation?
This year I am going to start an online intermediate degree in Commerce and Marketing, so I will have to combine it with tennis. A double effort, but I really want it.
Are you clear that you want to be a professional?
When did you make that decision?
I would tell you that from the first day I picked up a tennis racket, in Mallorca. The feeling was such that I wanted this to be my sport.
Who put that racket in your hand?
It’s a curious story. I was in physical education class, at school, and we had to throw a ball against a wall and catch it without it falling. The other children saw that it was a bit of a disaster, the ball went one way, the other… but I threw it and caught it all the time, the first time, super easy. He used to play goalkeeper in soccer, but that day my teacher told me: ‘you should play tennis‘. The following month I entered a tennis club and started with this, I remember I went with some soccer shoes (laughs). If it hadn’t been for that teacher, I would never have played tennis in my life.
Were you always advanced with tennis?
I was always the smallest in the class, the rest were older than me, until at 12-13 years old I made a very big leap, there I started training with the 16-17 year old boys. At that time I was the worst of all, but deep in my heart I knew that I really was the best (laughs). I am very competitive, I take everything very personally.
And inside the track?
I really liked to make drop shots, throw the slice, upload to the network, etc. They were very unusual things in that club, things that none of the other kids did. There I realized that maybe I could dedicate myself to this, but I needed to take it much more seriously. So I opted for a radical change and went to Barcelona when I was 16 years old.
It’s not easy, but I have always liked to be alone, to manage my personal affairs with the greatest independence. If I am going to make a living from this it will be for myself… and of course, for the help that my parents have given me during all these years.
What are you afraid of?
(Think) To injuries, an injury with which they tell you: ‘You can’t go on anymore‘. Or an injury that makes you stop for a year. Luckily I have never had serious injuries, knock on wood to continue like this. The longest I was unemployed was three months due to appendicitis.
That’s scary too.
It happened to me returning from a tournament in Colombia, on the same plane, my stomach started to hurt a lot. I insisted to my coach so much that they ended up calling a doctor on the same plane. I think we had to stop in Puerto Rico, but I preferred to hold on until we got to Barcelona. As soon as I arrived, they operated on me.
What a story!
Yes Yes. I was very scared, honestly, I didn’t know what I had. After the operation they told me that I had been very lucky, because it could have been peritonitis.
What excites you about everything that comes with being an elite tennis player?
(Thinks) Well look, something very basic. Every time you go with your parents to dinner at a restaurant, it is usually your parents who pay. I would like the day to come when I have my own money and tell them: ‘No, today I pay‘. Or if my mother wants to buy something: ‘No, I’ll pay you for this.‘. It would be something incredible for me.
You seem like a very familiar boy.
My family has helped me a lot since I was little, as well as my friends from Mallorca. They are always supporting me, sending messages or calling me. I value all this very much.
Well, let’s go with the quick round. Are you ready?
Wimbledon. I really liked the weed when I went.
I touch my hips a lot when I play, I hit myself. I don’t know why, I do it without thinking, it just comes out.
An anecdote on the circuit.
Once, playing a tournament in Egypt, he was losing 5-4 and 15-40. I took risks by shooting two firsts with second serve, one of them was an ace. I ended up winning the tournament and I didn’t understand anything. I could’nt believe it.
A game that you remember watching on television.
The final of the US Open 2011, Nadal-Djokovic. I think it was the first tennis match I saw on television.
The song you play before entering a game.
Right now… ‘Holland’, by Jhayco.
A goal for next year.
Enter the top500 of the ATP ranking.
Fulfill a dream.
Enter the top20 of the ATP ranking.
Positions to ask for, better top10, right?
Well come on, top10 (laughs).
Will you let me get you into trouble?
…let’s see, let’s see.
Within the Spanish Davis Cup team, who is the biggest joker?
Marcel Granollers or Alejandro Davidovich.
The most serious.
The most professional.
Uyyy… I think Davidovich, yes (laughs)
The one that surprised you the most.
Bernabe Zapata. He seems like a super serious guy and is actually someone super open and nice.
The most hooked on the mobile phone.
Hooked on your cell phone? Well, I would say that I (laughs)
The most strict with the diet.
Everyone, no one fails there.
Well, the least strict with the diet.
Tomorrow David tells you that you have to play double against Serbia, who do you choose as your partner?
Marcel, without a doubt, is the best doubles player.
Will Spain be in the Final Phase of Malaga?
Sure! I fully trust this team, I know they are going to give 100% and I will be there to encourage them.
- Photo credit: @RFET