Junior Eduardo Dos Santos is making Newman tennis history, after winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s South Central Regional Championship on Sept. 27. Dos Santos will represent the South-Central Region as one of eight players in the country to compete at the ITA National Small College Championships Oct. 15 – 18 in Sumter, S.C.
Kevin Klein, Men’s Tennis Head Coach, said this is the first time a Newman tennis player has made it to the national tournament.
“For Eduardo to have the opportunity to represent Newman, the Heartland Conference, and the South-Central Region on the national stage is very exciting,” Klein said.
Dos Santos, who went into the regional tournament at No. 3 seed, said he went in not expecting much.
“I think it kind of helped me… I played really loose. I didn’t have any weight on my shoulders.”
Dos Santos received a bye in his first round and won his second round 6 – 4, 6 – 4 over Cole Davis of UT of the Permian Basin. He went on to beat Chris Norrie of MSU by a score of 6 – 4, 6 – 3. Dos Santos said with each match he gained more and more confidence during the tournament.
“I was focusing on each match… Each match was a different challenge,” he said.
In the quarterfinals match, Dos Santos’ toughest match against Jean-Laurent Pageault of Western New Mexico, he was down a set in what would go on to be a three set match lasting around three to four hours, he said. Dos Santos said Pageault controlled the first set with his serve, but in the second set he started to lose that control.
“In the crucial moments of the match, he hesitated a little bit,” he said. Dos Santos went on to win the second and third matches 7 – 5 and 6 – 4.
In the semifinals match, Dos Santos won 7 – 5 in the first set after trailing 5 – 2, and then won 6 – 2 in the second set.
Finally, in the championship match, Dos Santos put away No. 1 seed Kyle Davidson of Midwestern State by a score of 6 – 4 and 6 – 1. Davidson was the 2014 regional champion.
Dos Santos is competing at the national championships this week in South Carolina.
“Regardless of whatever result I get. For me, I’m really excited about the experience of going to nationals, about maybe meeting new players,” he said.
Though this recent victory is only one of Dos Santos many individual achievements, he maintains that it reflects on the strength of the team as a whole and not just himself.
Klein said that Dos Santos’ victory is a great accomplishment for the whole team and program, though some players’ roles may go overlooked.
“There are so many contributions that go unnoticed, and people sometimes lose sight of how important the team aspect is,” he said.
Some of those less-visible contributions include sophomore Enrique Coiras stringing Dos Santos’ extra racquet during the semi-final match after Dos Santos broke a string and was down to his final racquet, Klein said.
Dos Santos said, “It’s the teamwork. You don’t get there by yourself. You don’t get there practicing by yourself… Even though it’s an individual tournament it represents the team.”
Klein said he is honored to work with the group of student-athletes who have the talent and desire to compete at such a high level.
“Hopefully this experience can help them realize the potential they have, what they can accomplish, and help motivate them to keep working to improve even more to where we are competing with the nation’s best as a team in the spring,” he said.