Olivier Stuart is one of the top performers in Mercer’s tennis program and even has a history of winning on the international stage with his home country of France, having trained and played for the national team since a kid.
“I was like around 5 [or] 6 and my brother was already into it. So I just decided to follow him and see what it gives to me,” Stuart said.
Following his brother proved to be good for Stuart. While playing for the French national team, he was a French National Champion and another year was part of the team representing France that finished runner-up in the European Championships.
“I think he kind of got burned out a little bit in tennis when he was back home. He was part of the national program [and] lived in Roland Garros,” said Head Tennis Coach Eric Hayes. “I think he might get a little tired of tennis.”
Stuart’s renewed interest in tennis just happened to come around the same time he was getting ready for college.
“We caught him at a time when he was getting back into it,” Hayes said. “For two years he’s invested a lot of time in his game.”
Hayes had help landing Stuart at Mercer because of a common contact the two share, Stuart’s coach from France.
“His coach is a former player at South Alabama and I used to coach Troy. So I knew him really well and he contacted me about Olivier,” Hayes said. “Luckily we were able to get him to come to Mercer.”
The decision to come to America for Stuart had to do with some of his apprehension about whether to turn pro or not.
“When you reach a moment in your tennis career where you think you won’t go pro, like America is a really good option to keep improving without thinking about going pro,” Stuart said.
Stuart said he still hasn’t decided about going pro or not but said that it isn’t really on his mind right now.
Hayes said he feels that talent-wise, Stuart is good enough to go pro, but admits it’ll depend on Stuart’s patience and ability to bring a whole other level of commitment needed at the professional level.
Regardless of whether Stuart goes pro or ends up getting a job with his finance and marketing degree, he wants to stay in the U.S.