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Tennis roots propel Grear into final Rice season

Honing his skills since an early age, Trinity Grear has devloped into a top player on Rice’s tennis team. Courtesy Tony Grear

By Kathleen Ortiz     2/20/24 10:26pm

Alyss Allen Grear wasn’t yet pregnant with her sons when she made a silent wish for twins. It was the late 1990s, and Grear was watching Serena and Venus Williams play tennis on her television. She had never played tennis in her life, but watching the Williams sisters, she decided that one day she wanted her kids to play the sport. 

“I remember [hearing] Richard Williams tell their story about how he got them into tennis really young because you have a natural partner,” Allen Grear said. “I remember thinking, if I ever have twins, I’m going to put them in tennis.

“Sure enough, I had twins. And, you know, here they are.”


Just like their mother had hoped, her twins Trinity and Origen Grear started playing tennis when they were around 6 years old. Trinity has now played for 15 years. His final season at Rice is just getting started, and he is one of the top-three players on the team, head coach Efe Ustundag said. 

 “I hope that as a team we can have the best season we’ve had in a few years,” Ustundag, whose team started the season 5-4, said. “And, also, send [Trinity] out with hopefully a conference championship or an NCAA bid that I believe this team can do.”

While the stakes are higher today, Trinity has been serious about tennis since he started playing. 

When they were little, Trinity and Origen would go out to the tennis courts with their dad, Tony Grear, on the weekends. Tony, who never played tennis, would sit on the sidelines studying tennis YouTube videos while the twins were on the court. 

“If I picked up a racket right now, even after sideline coaching and yelling at them, I still cannot hit the sweet spot,” Tony said. “I can’t do it. But they were good enough and committed enough. I guess I wasn’t patient enough, but they were. Whatever I saw on YouTube, we practiced it.”

When it was time to go home, Trinity would cry. Despite often being on the court for five hours, he wanted to stay and practice longer. In hindsight, his mom regretted making him leave before he was ready. Trinity is grateful for the balance his parents provided for his intensity, though.

“They are there to support me in whatever way they can, so I think I naturally love the sport,” Trinity said of his parents. “The kind of guidance that they gave me, it was perfect. I think I was able to make a lot of my own decisions, and then they just supported me along the way.”

Trinity’s serious and competitive nature was obvious off the tennis court as well. He strived to get the best grades. Trinity consistently earned the fastest time in his class at the annual elementary school turkey trot. His dad once saw him practicing his karate moves in the middle of the night before a big tournament the next morning.

“He’s never needed very much micromanaging,” Tony said. “Whenever he realizes what the task has been, he’s going for it. I’ve always felt like my role is to just help him to be efficient in whatever his processes are based on my experience as an adult.”

While they continued to explore other sports, Trinity and Origen began training at the Junior Tennis Champion Center in College Park, Md., when they were around 8 years old. The boys were urged to start pursuing only one sport seriously around age 10. Trinity said choosing tennis was the natural decision.

When the twins were 12, though, Origen hurt his knee and needed surgery. Trinity described the injury as the catalyst for them eventually choosing different paths for high school. While Origen decided to go to public high school and continue to play tennis there, Trinity started training and doing school with JTCC.

“Most of the best players in the country are going to do online school and train pretty much all day because in tennis it’s very international,” Trinity said. “We need to be able to train, to travel to tournaments and we need the flexibility that online school provides in order to get recruited and to really get better.”

Trinity was full-time at the tennis academy by ninth grade. He spent three and a half hours doing his online school before training for four hours. 

Trinity caught Ustundag’s eye through his rankings. Trinity was top-40 in the country among his class. He was a five-star tennis player. Ustundag said he had the chance to watch him a lot as he was recruiting.

“Everybody I spoke with just had a lot of positive things to say about him,” Ustundag said. “It was one of those things [where] every tournament I watched him, I just saw something a little better.”

Trinity started the recruiting process during his junior year. He didn’t have a “dream college” in mind. Up until committing to Rice in March of his senior year, he wasn’t 100 percent sure what he was looking for in a school.

Trinity did online school from Maryland during his first semester at Rice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he arrived in January of his first year, he was the only freshman on the team. While the transition wasn’t easy, Trinity credits the environment on the team for making him a more well-rounded person today. 

He remembers that before coming to Rice, a tennis loss would be detrimental and feel like his whole world. He still cares about his results, but he has an easier time feeling grounded because he has found other things to care about, too.

As he looks to graduate in May with a double major in Business and Sport Management, Ustundag says that on his senior day he will probably have multiple fans whose kids will be vying for the opportunity to present Trinity with his senior award.

“You know, it’s not just the speed and the athleticism and stuff,” Ustundag said. “He’s got that attraction of a good person, athlete, student-athlete that makes it easy to cheer for him.”

Senior Trinity Grear hopes to cap his career as an Owl on a high note by winning the conference or qualifying for the NCAA National Championship tournament. Kathleen Ortiz / Thresher

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