Advantage Gonzalez: Xavier Gonzalez ’14 Named Rhodes Scholar

Sam Chambers
Congratulations to Xavier Gonzalez ’14 for being one of 32 college students to be named a Rhodes Scholar. In the fall of 2018, Xavier will begin studies for a Master of Science by research in mathematics at Oxford University. A senior on the Harvard University Men’s Varsity Tennis team, Gonzalez will not be putting down his racquet after his final match for the Crimson this spring, because Oxford University allows graduate students to compete on the tennis team. He will continue to pursue his lifelong love of tennis, a family tradition on two continents.
“I am so excited to join the Varsity Blues at Oxford. My Uncle Mauricio Gonzalez played for them when he was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, and I am so excited to continue the legacy!” said Gonzalez.
Tennis is in Xavier’s blood. His father played for Harvard, and his mother was a captain for Yale.  His sister, Natasha ’16, currently plays for the Harvard Women’s team. Xavier holds a singles record of 15-4 for Harvard and is a 2017 Ivy League team champion. He was a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and the 2015 "most improved player" for the Crimson.  In high school tennis, Xavier was a two-year captain for St. John’s, earning MVP, All-SPC and High School All American honors. Xavier was also a co-captain in cross country, garnering Outstanding Athlete, Sportsmanship, and All-SPC accolades. He won USTA National Open junior tournaments in singles, achieving the number one ranking in Texas in Boys 16 and Boys 14.  He was honored with the USTA National Junior Scholar-Athlete Award, the USTA National Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award and the John McFarlin Award for the Texas Junior Player of the Year. He also won the USTA state sportsmanship award by a vote of his peers three years in a row.
In August of 2017, Xavier teamed up with Houstonian Harry Fowler to win the USTA National Grass Court Championship in Men's Open Doubles.  The duo was unseeded and did not drop a set in the tournament, which was held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. 
“One thing that really helped me that weekend was attending to the mental game,” said Xavier. “I scripted and visualized every morning of that tournament and by the time we got to the semis and finals I was in a really good mental state. A funny scheduling conflict also helped me out. The finals landed on the first day of training for being a Peer Advising Fellow [Harvard's version of being a freshman advisor, the acronym is PAF].  I love advising freshman and really did not want to miss it. So, I was really relaxed in the semis, because I knew I could be happy with either result: if we won we were on to the finals, but if we lost I was so excited to get up to school and starting PAFing! Then when we made the finals, I felt such strong motivation---almost a sense of duty!---to ‘make a good fight’ if I was missing PAF training for it!”
“I loved playing on the grass too,” said Gonzalez. “It is so much more cerebral---court positioning matters a lot more.  I am so excited to get to train on it in England---it will be lots of fun and also help make me a smarter player!”
Oxford competes on grass-surface courts against other clubs, including rival Cambridge University.  Every two years top players from Oxford and Cambridge team up to compete against Harvard-Yale all-stars in the Prentice Cup.  Xavier’s mother played in the first such meeting for women, leading the Harvard-Yale team to victory. The next series will be in 2018 at the All-England Club at Wimbledon, and until then, Xavier has other points to score. According to this formidable scholar-athlete, his professional goals to are to "extend the frontiers of mathematics, to promote the public interest in math and to use math and its methods to promote the public interest."
Game, set, match, Gonzalez!
Sam Chambers-  Athletic News