As of Aug. 18 the University of Dallas gained a new tennis team, coached by Jacob Delao.
UD Athletics brought back the program with a history of having “very successful tennis players in the past,” said Jarred Samples, the athletic director. Additionally, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference that UD is a part of, sponsors tennis as a sport and every university in the conference already has a team.
“It will be successful if we can have a full season and,” said Samples, “if we can fill a team the entire year, I think that’s a successful first year.”
Delao is very passionate about tennis and works diligently with his players. Although he wants his team to be the best, he also sticks to UD’s philosophy: being a student first, then an athlete.
“I want to build a culture and environment of students who want to work hard, and who are dedicated and passionate about the sport but also in the classroom,” Delao said. “I understand my athletes are here to get a degree and want to encourage that as well and make academics a priority.”
Delao hopes to have his team compete for titles at bigger tournaments. He said, “As much as I want that immediately, I understand it’s gonna take some time and I’m willing to put in the hard work. Whether that’s showing up early or staying late.”
Since the tennis season has just begun, an official roster has not been set. Delao said, “One player to watch out for is junior Tom O’Donnell.” O’Donnell has had experience playing tennis before as well as in participating in tournaments.
One of the players on the team, Ariana Menchaca, freshman politics major, is thrilled for the new season and the opportunity to represent UD. She played tennis in high school and is enthusiastic to continue playing on a collegiate level. She enjoys the repetitive days of practice even in the hot Texas weather.
Menchaca has goals for herself and her teammates. “Definitely changing my mind set [to become] more positive about winning I guess and not be too discouraged if we lose, but I think for, as a team, it would be awesome if we could all get close cause I remember my high school being fairly close together,” Menchaca said.
She says that she is a little nervous but excited for UD’s tennis team’s first upcoming match at University of Mary-Hardin Baylor on Sept. 15-17.