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Unmatched unity on the court

The CU tennis program begins spring season
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Daniela Benavides
The members of the Lady Tigers tennis team are (front row from left) Miru Nonaka, Candela Converti, Angela Mendoza, Clara Asprella, (back row from left), Ariadna Perez, Miho Akita, Andrea Ovejero and Oriana Espinoza.

Campbellsville University’s tennis teams have started their spring season with many changes, new coaches, brand new players and seniors returning for their last season.

The Lady Tigers started their season on Feb. 4 at Richmond, Kentucky against Eastern Kentucky University, where they fought hard, but didn’t receive the results they expected against a tough opponent.

The Campus Times was unable to reach new Head Coach Anna Brown for comment. According to Campbellsville University Athletics’ website, Brown was once a student-athlete at CU, and she was “humbled” to be welcomed back as a head coach.

“I am thrilled and looking forward to building a strong foundation and continuing the success this program has experienced, but I am excited to lead this program to flourish in new ways,” Brown said to Campbellsville University Athletics in August of last year. “I am most excited about being a mentor to these young women and helping to shape them into strong, confident tennis players and followers of Christ just like this program did for me.”

From Sochi, Russia, Brown is a former Lady Tiger (2011-15) who was a NAIA All-American Honorable Mention in 2013 and 2015, and four times First-Team All Mid-South Conference.

Camila Agudelo, a graduate assistant, said she’s looking forward to what the season has in store for the team.

“We have a solid team, very united,” Agudelo said. “The girls have trained very hard since the fall season, so coming to this spring we are ready to accomplish what we have been working on.”

Agudelo is pursuing her master’s degree while coaching and helping the team in many aspects.

“My role as a graduate assistant is to always help and support the coach and players,” Agudelo said. “Be with them, guide them to be the best versions of themselves.”

More than tennis, Agudelo feels a strong connection with the Lady Tigers.

“My favorite thing is sharing time with them,” Agudelo said. “Getting to know them better. They teach me and I teach them. It is incredible the amount of things I have learned by their side. They are all incredible women.”

Their spring season includes 10 more matches, including three home and seven away. They will be facing their biggest opponent, Lindsey Wilson College, at home on Thursday, March 14. Other important matches include University of the Cumberlands, Bethel University, Freed-Hardeman University and Georgetown, as these are all Mid-South Conference competitions.

The Lady Tigers have a returning class of eight players. The senior class includes Ariadna Perez, Angela Mendoza, Andrea Ovejero and Miho Akita. Additional players are junior Oriana Espinoza and sophomores Clara Asprella, Miru Nonaka and Candela Converti.

Senior Ariadna Perez, from Pamplona, Spain, describes her team as very positive and energetic. Perez transferred from a DI program in Louisiana, where she competed her freshman season, and she became a Lady Tiger starting her sophomore year. Perez experienced a big transition coming to Campbellsville, but she feels at home.

“For me, the most important thing is to have a team that is united,” she said. “We have built an amazing community where we all support each other and that makes a huge impact coming into this season.”

Perez is looking for more team achievements this season, such as qualifying for the national championship. Her biggest accomplishment in her athletic career as a Tiger occurred during her first season, when she only lost one out of 22 matches.

“The team spirit and the people are what stands out,” she said. “Tennis has always been my passion, but now it is more than just that, it is about the team, winning and playing as a team.”

The Lady Tigers are preparing for their next away match on Feb. 10 at Centre College.

The members of the Tigers tennis team are (front row from left) Rikuto Towata, Mario Sanchez, Nicolas Andrade, Nahuel Hernando, (back row from left), Manel Pinheiro, Vance Hopkins, Nathan Boulard, Matthew Shank, Hernan Toledo and Sebastian Toledo. (Daniela Benavides)

Men’s tennis team will begin season at EKU on Feb. 17

The Tigers have 14 matches this spring, with six home and eight on the road.

A few new faces joined the team this season, including Nathan Boulard, a freshman from France, and Manel Pinheiro, who is earning his master’s degree after graduating from Universidad de Porto in Portugal.

Head Coach Kyle Caven said he’s excited to see the performance of key returning players,  seniors Nicolas Andrade, Hernan Toledo and Mario Sanchez.

Caven believes his team’s model will enable them to be successful this season.

“Good attitude, effort and intensity, that is what our model is,” Caven said. “Everyone can do the little things, like show up on time and be respectful, but we have more than that.”

Caven has coached the Tigers for 15 years, and he’s enjoyed every season making great memories.

“Being around this group of guys is something I can’t replace,” Caven said. “It is the best and most rewarding thing I can ask as a coach.”

Caven said his team is resilient.

“The passion all the guys have, with everything they have going through their lives and they always fight to come back stronger is unmatched with any other team,” Caven said.

According to Caven, Nicolas Andrade, a senior from Santo Domingo, Ecuador, has always shown intensity and hard work during his four years as a Tiger. Year after year, Andrade said he’s always wanted to win a title.

“The only thing I want to achieve is a national title, either individually or with my team representing Campbellsville,” he said. “It is truly all I have ever wanted.”

Andrade is looking forward to continuing his career as he’s planning to earn his master’s degree after he graduates, and use his COVID year to play one more season with the Tigers.

Besides tennis, Andrade believes his team has a chemistry that no other team has, having teammates from all over the world.

“My team is unique and we have a lot of chemistry,” he said. “I would not trade them for anyone. One of my favorite memories is when I was the ‘clincher’ in one of our matches and was able to perform the winning point. I will never forget that moment. We all celebrated and hugged.”

The Tigers start their spring season on Feb. 17 against Eastern Kentucky University, where they will be competing at 9 a.m. in Richmond, Kentucky.

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About the Contributor

Daniela Benavides is a senior at Campbellsville University. She was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, but most recently has lived in Lima, Peru. Benavides started her collegiate career at Waldorf University, a small four-year college in Iowa, after being awarded a soccer scholarship. Looking for better opportunities academically and athletically, Benavides transferred to Campbellsville University in August of 2023.

Benavides is a mass communication major, and is planning on being a sports photographer/videographer or social media manager in the future. She’s currently interning with the Sports Media Information staff as a photographer and videographer.

Benavides is looking forward to graduating and seeing what the future holds for her, as she is currently looking for jobs and optional practical training.

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