EUGENE, Ore. – Now the program’s winningest all-time player, it’s hard to imagine the University of Oregon men’s tennis team without Robin Cambier. The senior Belgium native has smashed most school records while leaving his mark all over the program, but it almost never came to be.
Out of prep school, Cambier was the second-ranked prospect in Belgium and earned attention from many American colleges. His original top three list consisted of Nevada, William & Mary and San Francisco.
After a few months of deliberation, Cambier decided upon the Wolfpack and called Nevada to inform them of his intent to commit the following week. As soon as he hung up, UO head coach Nils Schyllander called.
“Nils called me right as I hung up the phone and told me he would come see me play within two days,” said Cambier. “I was impressed that he would come that far to watch; it showed interest. He came and watched me play a tournament in France two days later.”
Schyllander wasn’t allowed to speak with Cambier until the conclusion of the tournament, which took two days as Cambier advanced all the way to the finals. After the match, Schyllander told Cambier there was a spot open for him.
Without taking a visit, and without knowing where exactly where the University of Oregon was, Cambier made a quick decision to become a Duck.
“I wanted a school that was ranked well academically and for sport,” said Cambier. “Other than that, I didn’t know where exactly I was going. I thought it would be really cold over here”
Almost four years since then, that decision has paid huge dividends for both parties. During Cambier’s freshman season, UO was unranked in the ITA’s preseason polls. This season, UO achieved its first ever top 25 ranking and has been ranked in every poll.
Cambier has gone on to break seven of eight major program records, including most career singles and doubles wins. He currently leads UO this season in singles (20) and doubles (17) victories. Meanwhile, UO has notched milestone after milestone this season and are off to a 14-3 record.
“With the hard work players and coaches have put in and the culture we’ve created here, we’ve got a top 30, top 20 program,” said Cambier. “It’s a huge improvement.”
Cambier’s decision to attend UO has been beneficial off the court as well. After making the lengthy move from Belgium, Cambier quickly fit in within the community. He elected to major in Sports Business, combining two of his passions, which he hopes will lead to a job coaching collegiate tennis and perhaps working in professional sports later down the road.
He also quickly recognized the importance of community service, something that wasn’t as big in Europe. Cambier has been heavily involved in the O Heroes, and is currently serving as Co-Director of the program.
“Before I came here, I had no idea what to expect out of my life outside of tennis,” said Cambier. ‘But, it’s been amazing. The athlete community is one big family and I love the atmosphere here.”
Cambier will be recognized on Senior Day as UO hosts Arizona at 1:30 p.m. (PST). Although surprised by how quickly it’s come up, Cambier isn’t putting an abundance of emotion into the match considering UO will still have four regular season road matches after its home finale.
For all the success Cambier and the Ducks have achieved the past four seasons, there is still one thing left on the agenda; take Oregon to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. Conference champions and teams ranked in the top 40 by the ITA qualify for the big dance.
Currently ranked 27th with a 14-3 record, Oregon has positioned itself well for its first postseason berth in 10 seasons.
“The main and only goal we have is getting to the NCAAs,” said Cambier. “Whatever other goals we can achieve while doing that, hopefully reaching the second round of NCAAs, I’d be happy with. We all have some hidden goals, too. We know what we are capable of and what we can achieve.”
The Ducks host No. 58 Utah tomorrow before taking on Arizona on Sunday. Both matches are at 1:30 p.m. (PST) at the Student Tennis Center. UO will then close the regular season by traveling to Santa Clara (4/9), No. 18 California (4/11), No. 52 Stanford (4/12) and Washington (4/19).
The Pac-12 Championships are April 23-27 in Ojai, Calif. The NCAA Championships will be in Athens, Ga., this season.