Rare Air on tennis court

Posted at 10:56 PM, May 04, 2020

For four years, Air Force tennis standout TJ Fumagalli served up win after win on her way to holding 11 different records.

"I just always wanted to be a catalyst to success for the team," Fumagalli said. "I really tried to put my everything into tennis."

The most prolific career in women's program history, the Falcons senior star finished with 228 combined wins, 25 more than any other player.

"It's nice to know that hard work pays off," Fumagalli said.

The first in Academy history to be ranked nationally in singles and doubles competition, the team captain and Mountain West Conference player of the year helped turned the Falcons into contenders after years of mediocrity.

"When your team is dog-piling and everyone gets it, it's just the best feeling," Fumagalli said.

After a dominating regular season, the Falcons were poised to contend for their first MWC tournament title and NCAA berth, when the COVID-19 pandemic ended their year prematurely.

"All the goals at the academy, I think that takes the cake right there," Fumagalli said. "I was pretty heartbroken, pretty shattered when the season ended."

It's a wicked spin on a feel good story about an all-time great but few take life in stride like those committed to serve.

"There's nothing about the past four years that I would ever take back," Fumagalli said.

With a fifth-year of eligibility not offered to service academy athletes, the talented Cadet now turns her attention to the next chapter in her life.

Last month, Fumagalli was commissioned into the Space Force by her brother Lucas, a fellow Falcons tennis standout and major inspiration during her time in Colorado Springs.

"That was a pretty special moment because I was waiting for that one for the last four years," Fumagalli said.

One day in the near future, possibly as soon as next year, the Air Force women's tennis team will reach their greatest height. It will be the work laid down on the clay by their senior leader, which helped pave the way to success.

"It's always going to be my team, if I see success, I was a part of that, that would make me pretty darn happy," Fumagalli said.