With the UTA women’s tennis team (4-0) in full swing, freshman tennis player Bruna Casasampere looks to gain experience from her veteran teammates.
Casasampere, who is from Barcelona, Spain, first started playing tennis because of her father’s interest in sports, which transferred onto her and her sister at an early age.
“I started playing because my dad is like a fanatic of sports, and we have a club so close to home, and they wanted us — me and my sister — to play some sport,” Casasampere said. “We tried with tennis and we really liked it.”
She gained motivation after playing for her club coach, which inspired her to continue honing her craft.
“I really liked tennis when I was a kid, and I was always wanting more to play tennis,” Casasampere said. “There’s one coach that was always cheering me a lot, and it was like a motivation for me to have someone that is cheering me.”
Head coach Diego Benitez first noticed Casasampere because she was considered one of the best junior tennis players in Spain.
“Bruna was [on] our radar for our long time. She was always one of the best juniors in Spain, especially her region,” Benitez said. “Bruna was always a shining star in those competitions.”
Adjusting to the competition in the U.S. can be hard for international student-athletes. Luckily for Casasampere, she has the help and guidance from junior tennis players Carla Pons and Lucia Natal, who are also from Spain.
“When I was recruiting Bruna, you know obviously she found out that Carla was in the team,” Benitez said. “They started talking with each other before Bruna got here, and Carla played a very important point, making her aware of what to expect before she got here.”
With COVID-19 affecting many student athletes’ communication with each other outside of practice, Pons said that she tries to communicate with Casasampere via WhatsApp and FaceTime so she can give advice.
“I would say that the most important thing, even though she loses or she wins, she has to compete really good, she has to be a warrior on the court,” Pons said.
Casasampere has hit the ground running this season, winning both her singles matches against University Texas Permian Basin and Cameron University. She now seeks to keep that winning streak alive.
“She is ready to go, she’s in pretty good shape,” Benitez said. “It’s always tricky to come mid-year in January, because she did not do the pre-season with us in the fall.”
Benitez wants Casasampere to absorb knowledge from junior tennis players Momoka Horiguchi, Almudena Boza and Pons since they have experience playing against some of the top programs in the country.
“The very first time that we played doubles in practice doubles, I put Bruna with Momoka, because I just want Bruna to absorb like a sponge all the knowledge that these seniors have.” Benitez said.
Benitez said that when it comes to playing, he wants Casasampere to be exposed to those situations, and that the team is very fortunate to have Pons, Boza, Horiguchi and Natal, who bring a lot of experience for Casasampere.
Being thousands of miles away from your family can be tough for young student athletes, but Casasampere is used to being away from family. She said it’s not the worst thing ever because she has her UTA tennis family to help her along the way.
As the only freshman on the team this season, Casasampere looks to win and play as much as Benitez allows her to.