By Dave Southern
The biggest culture shock for Simon Arca Costas was part of every other athlete’s everyday routine.
It wasn’t the language barrier – the people of Boise proved to be even more helpful than he’d expected.
Even mixing school and tennis, something very uncommon after high school back home in Vigo, Spain, wasn’t too much for him to overcome.
OK, seeing snow for the first time? That was wild.
But the thing that surprised Arca Costas the most about being at Boise State? The weight room.
“Back home, I only played tennis – all the exercise I needed was on the court,” Arca Costas said. “I’d never done the bench press. I could probably do five pull-ups, no more.”
Boise State Director of Tennis Beck Roghaar has watched his progress.
“Everything was so new, so different … honestly, you were like ‘I hope this kid makes it.’ He’s done such a phenomenal job being comfortable outside his comfort zone, it’s amazing seeing what he’s become,” Roghaar said.
Three and a half years after his arrival, Arca Costas can do a lot more pull-ups, lift a lot more weight and has racked up a lot of wins.
Arca Costas earned All-Mountain West honors in singles in 2021, when he went 13-2. He also was an All-Mountain West doubles player in 2020. He is nearing a spot in the top 20 for all-time wins at Boise State and received an invitation in October to the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He went 2-1, the first Bronco to win twice at the event since 2013.
“People are looking up to me now, which is definitely not something that happened when I got here,” Arca Costas said. “On and off the court, those new guys, I need to show them what you need to do. It keeps me motivated.”
On a team that also includes players from Germany, Portugal, Japan, Croatia and Thailand, his experience coming to a far-off place, adjusting to college life, has been just as important.
“He’s a really good player, he’s mature, does great in school – Simon’s also the guy who guides them through things like how to get a bank account or a cell phone to allow them to make that transition more quickly,” Roghaar said.
If there were a poster child for the advantages of university athletics, Arca Costas would be a candidate. Sure, he’s learned new ways to improve as a tennis player, but he also has experienced being part of a team, a rarity on the junior circuit. His English, which he said was “OK” before coming to Boise, quickly improved while living with former Boise State golfer Cameron Barzekoff.
And if not for his experience in the classroom, Arca Costas may not have found his calling.
“I was interested in engineering, so I had to take a class – Computer Science 121 – and I got really into it,” said Arca Costas, a three-time All-Academic Mountain West selection. “So, I’m a computer science major now. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do, but video game programming, web design, I like those sorts of things. It’s a small group, great people, we’re kind of our own little bubble.”
Arca Costas is the most experienced Bronco player and he is expecting to return next season, thanks to the NCAA granting athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s hoping to cap off his career by bringing Boise State its first Mountain West title since 2015.
“His growth has been phenomenal, and I think there’s still a lot left for him to accomplish…that’s the thing you’re most proud of, the ones who take this experience and use it to push themselves forward,” Roghaar said.