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Devona ends his career in style

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published June 13. 2013 4:00AM

Rocco Devona is doing something that he rarely does.

He's taking a break.

Well, at least a break by Devona's high standards.

Since graduating from Mitchell College last month, he's been hunting for an entry level job in the accounting field, recently traveling to Florida for a job interview.

He's just not as busy as a traffic cop in Times Square, as he was during his Mitchell days.

A Waterford High School graduate, Devona excelled in the classroom and on the tennis court at Mitchell.

On Wednesday, Devona was named the New England Collegiate Conference Male Student Athlete of the Year, which recognizes athletic and academic accomplishments and also considers leadership and community service.

"I'm very grateful and appreciate that I got the award," Devona said. "Entering my freshmen year at Mitchell College, I knew I had to take education very seriously. ... I tried to excel every year. It would be a disappointment if I didn't get (the award).

"... Looking back on it now, it really took some work... I always considered myself aggressive and determined, not just on the tennis court."

Devona squeezed every ounce out of his Mitchell College experience.

He had an outstanding tennis career, helping the Mariners win three NECC titles.

He earned All-NECC first team honors in singles four times and three times in doubles and was named NECC Rookie of the Year in 2010. He owned a career singles record of 41-6 overall and went 44-5 in doubles.

"I knew the talent was there," Devona said of his team. "I just didn't know that we'd be as dominant as we were. I was very fortunate. That's what made my stay at Mitchell that much more exciting. Everything was clicking on all cylinders."

His resume was even more impressive in the classroom.

A business administration major, he posted the highest cumulative grade point average (3.87) of any Mitchell male student-athlete. He was a three-time All-NECC academic pick and was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society.

He also served as president of the Mitchell College Business Club and worked with the Mitchell College Water Project, which helps funds scholarships and community service projects on campus.

"The award couldn't have gone to a more deserving person," tennis coach Damian Houlden said in a released statement. "Over the past four years he's been the epitome of a true student-athlete, and he's always looking to improve in all aspects of life.

"This award is a wonderful way of recognizing his values and beliefs-along with all the hard work and dedication he's put in during his career-and it sets an example for his teammates, fellow athletes and the entire student body."

Mitchell was the perfect place for Devona, whose two brothers and sister also attended school there. Living about five minutes from campus, it made for an easy commute.

"It just worked out," Devona said. "We established a great relationship with them over the years. I got what I wanted and more."

Devona is ready to begin the next chapter in his busy life. He hopes hear in the near future about an accounting job that he interviewed for at Saddlebrook Resort, which is located just outside of Tampa.

As a high school senior, he moved there for about six months to polish his tennis skills before returning to Waterford.

"It seems very appetizing to work full-time in the beautiful weather of Florida," Devona said. "That would be a dream job. It's a very exciting athletic atmosphere, so it called to me."

The job also would allow him to stay connected to tennis. He hopes to coach someday. That's if he has time.

"I try to stay very busy," Devona said.

g.keefe@theday.com

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