Pedro Garcia grew 9 inches and learned to speak English since moving to Bradenton four years ago.
He also morphed into a standout tennis player, which is why the Bayshore High senior is the Bradenton Herald All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
It marks the second consecutive season that a Bayshore tennis player earned that distinction. Tianyu Bao was last year's honoree.
The players share similarities that made them hallmark No. 1 players for the Bruins.
Both came to America from other countries without the ability to speak English fluently.
Both trained at IMG Academies and chose Bayshore, a public school, over the tuition at IMG's The Pendleton School.
And both conquered the area high school ranks during their senior seasons.
"We went to Bayshore, and over there we found out we could play for their team," Garcia said. "So we decided to play, and we thought it was good. Good competition."
Garcia churned out a 14-0 regular-season record and continued his dominance at the Class 3A-District 12 tournament.
From there, the 6-foot-3 right-hander battled Lakewood Ranch's Arnav Mohanty to a three-set classic that ended 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Garcia's favor.
That victory was monumental as it prolonged Garcia's prep career with a trip to the 3A state tourney.
He advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Fort Myers Cypress Lake's Parker Woodall in individual singles. Garcia's effort was the closest anyone came to knocking out Woodall, who later became a state champion.
"I was disappointed because I could have beat the guy," said Garcia, who lost to Woodall 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4. " ... I had, like, two match points. And then the guy (went) on to win states."
Originally from Ecuador, Garcia relocated to Miami in April 2006. Living in Little Havana, Garcia got around just fine with his native Spanish.
But a move to Bradenton changed that, and Garcia had to overcome the language barrier on and off the tennis court.
"The first two years, it was really tough," Garcia said. "... I started not speaking in Spanish. I started talking in English more. Even if my friends speak Spanish, I would talk in English."
He was also just 5-foot-6 as a freshman.
Garcia eventually shot up in size and began using his serving and forehand as strengths to overpower opponents.
In his early high school years, Garcia often found himself matched up against taller opponents, which made things trickier for him.
But his father, Aurelio, a tennis coach who works at IMG, afforded Garcia the opportunity to hone his skills at the private academy across the street from Bayshore High.
"It was a real privilege for me training here," Garcia said during an interview at IMG.
Due to his grades -- he had a 2.5 grade-point average -- Garcia is heading to Johnson County Community College in Kansas this fall.
He said he hopes to transfer to the University of Miami, his "dream school," and play tennis.
That means improving his skills and grades at the junior college level first.
But based on his past accomplishments, that shouldn't be an issue moving forward.
Cardinal Mooney Kevin Lyons.
Lakewood Ranch Arnav Mohanty, Arsav Mohanty, Jacques Swanepoel, Leonardo Murri, Qing Zhang.
Saint Stephens Zachary Bessette, William DeQuant, Brian Berdusco, Peter Moore, Harris Dunlap.