Purdue Tennis Team Member and AgEcon Senior, Mateo Julio Finds Opportunities on the Court and in the classroom
Mateo Julio (Agribusiness Management; Olavarria, Argentina) has been playing tennis for almost 18 years. Given his extensive background and desire to continue playing tennis in college, Mateo sought a program that had a good balance in both athletic and academic opportunities. "I chose Purdue because of the great athletic facilities and because it is very good in academics as well. I knew I would have a lot of good opportunities by coming here."
In order to be selected to play at Purdue, players are usually recruited by coaches via e-mail or in person. In Mateo's case, the assistant coach came to visit him in Argentina where he was able to attend practice and see him play as a high school student. Since becoming a player for Purdue's team, Mateo does not try out every year, but did mention that at player's spot on the team depends on how well they perform both athletically and academically each year.
The time commitment for players includes a "season" which occurs during the spring and "off-season" during the fall. "In the fall, we practice around 20 hours a week which includes conditioning, weights, practices, and other activities such as working with a sport psychologist to give you an example. In the spring the volume of practice is less but we spend a lot of time travelling to our matches, we usually travel on Thursdays, and we are not back until Sunday, so it is a lot of commitment that involves managing your responsibilities with academics very well."
Practices are usually around 2 to 3 hours long and very intense. Mateo explains, "The expectations outside of regular practice are to do good in school and maintain good grades as well as taking care of your body by doing rehab with athletic trainers in order to prevent injuries and be healthy to compete."
When asked about the pandemic and its impact on players, Mateo shared that the experience has not been positive for any of the players. "In my case, covid impacted my time to play here at Purdue, the 2020 season was cut short at beginning of March, and this 2021 season we did not play a full season as well, since matches were only within the big ten conference as we usually play out of conference matches too. I have also been a long time away from home due to covid-19 regulations and difficulty to travel."
Overall, Mateo has enjoyed his experience as a college tennis player and is glad he joined Purdue's team. "As every experience it has its ups and downs, but I would definitely recommend it. Personally, I would recommend it for foreign athletes who struggle to find opportunities in their home countries due to different factors such as lack of facilities, economic situation, and lack of resources." As a player, Mateo has experienced a lot of high-level competition while also dealing with a variety of different things, helping him learn a lot about himself personally and professionally.
When asked to share what he will remember after his time as a player is over, Mateo reflected. "I will remember the people I have met here through the years and all the experiences I had. One thing I will remember is my progress here and the uncertainty when I first arrived, my English was not the best one and having to adapt to a different culture and place is not always easy. I am glad I had the chance to go through that because it taught me a lot of things."