Hispanic tennis players thrive in Southern colleges and universities
Collegiate tennis in the United States has long been a platform for talented athletes to showcase their skills while pursuing a higher education. Among the ranks of collegiate athletes, Hispanic tennis players have made significant strides and contributions to USTA Southern.
We interviewed three accomplished collegiate Hispanic tennis players who shared their unique experiences and insights. Their journey is a testament to determination, hard work, and the pursuit of dreams on and off the court.
For many Hispanic players, the path to collegiate tennis begins with a deep passion for the sport. Their dedication often starts at a young age, with countless hours spent on the court improving their skills. This commitment is driven by a desire not only to excel in tennis but also to seek further education.
Oscar Del Granado
Oscar Del Granado, a former player for Flagler College and the assistant coach for the Troy University men’s tennis team. Hailing from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, he discussed what inspired him to play tennis at a collegiate level:
“I decided to pursue college tennis when I was around fifteen years old because I wanted to compete at a high level of tennis and explore the possibility of playing professionally in the future. From a young age, tennis was not just a sport but a true passion for me. Throughout my high school years, I dedicated myself to honing my tennis skills, participating in competitive junior tournaments and consistently striving for improvement.
“My experience as a collegiate tennis player was incredibly fulfilling, providing me with valuable life lessons, teamwork skills and personal growth opportunities. Now, as an assistant coach, I am excited to share my passion and knowledge of the sport with the next generation of student-athletes. My journey has come full circle, and I'm dedicated to helping them navigate their own paths to success in collegiate tennis and be part of their growth life.”
Unique challenges are a regular part of the daily life for Hispanic players, such as adapting to a new language and culture, managing academic responsibilities, while also striving to perform at the highest level in their sport. These challenges, however, are embraced as opportunities for growth, and these players are driven by their love for tennis and a determination to overcome obstacles.
Jorge Robinson, a senior player at Georgia College & State University, is from Entre Rios, Argentina. He shared his experience on dealing with the language and cultural challenges:
“The language barrier was undeniably a significant challenge for me. Understanding lectures and coursework required extra effort during my first year. Using the resources provided by my university, such as the writing center and attending professors' office hours, has been incredibly beneficial for overcoming the language and academic challenges when studying away from home.
“But it wasn’t just the language; adapting to the cultural differences between Argentina and the United States was equally demanding. I noticed that people express their feelings and emotions differently than what I was used to in my country. However, I managed to overcome these challenges thanks to my teammates, all of them, my family and all the people that were there to support me.”
Moreover, collegiate Hispanic tennis players often credit their success to the support they receive from their families, coaches and teammates. These individuals play a vital role in helping athletes navigate the ups and downs of their college careers.
Alex Lopez, a former player for the Wingate women’s tennis team, comes from Barcelona, Spain. She reflected on how finding a second family in the U.S. helped her overcome many obstacles:
“The support of your loved ones is the most important one. When you go away from home to thousands of miles away, different time gaps, and different life environments, you tend to feel alone and afraid. Teammates, roommates, and classmates become your family and you learn to adapt and support each other like family because when you are in those tough moments, those are the people that you have around.
“Obstacles come and go, but they make you grow and become the person you are. Love and support are a must when you are alone, and I’m incredibly grateful to have found a second family outside of my home.”
Continuing to draw from Lopez’s wealth of experience and insights, she offers advice to younger Hispanic players who dream of coming to play collegiate tennis in the U.S.:
“The best advice I can give is to not be afraid of what is going to happen; everything will be okay. College abroad seems like a big deal, and it is primarily because you are leaving your comfort zone, something you have never done before. I encourage you to be brave, to believe in yourself and not let anything fear you. If you do not feel comfortable in the place, remember that you have the option to leave and find another one.
“You will have a team that went through the same and will help you adapt. You will meet people from all around the world, and the best part is that you will get to know yourself more than in any other place. The team, the people, the place, the studies, and everything that surrounds it will create memories that will last forever.”
The journey of collegiate Hispanic tennis players in the U.S. is a testament to the power of passion, resilience, and determination. They overcome unique challenges, balance academics and athletics, and build supportive communities, all while inspiring the next generation of athletes. As they continue to make their mark on the collegiate tennis scene, these players remind us that success knows no boundaries and that the pursuit of excellence in both sports and education is a goal worth striving for.