Juston Whitner | Staff Writer
T’Kaira Winston | HamptonPirates.com
Tennis is a sport that is loved by countries, athletes and viewers all over the world. According to the World Atlas, there are 1 billion fans enthralled about the sport. That number of fans makes it the fourth-most-popular sport in the world.
At a school where football and basketball get most of the attention, a sport such as tennis can get lost in the light of other athletic squads.
The Hampton University women’s and men’s tennis rosters have more than 10 different countries represented. That includes Saint Lucia, where graduating senior Julia d’Auvergne started playing the game for fun at age 4.
“I began to take my game to a more serious level at 10,” d’Auvergne said. “Hampton is a place I really had to get accustomed to. I prefer the metropolitan area because Hampton doesn’t have much to do. It’s very quiet out here, and I don’t mind, but it’s good for school purposes. I can stay focused because there is less going on.”
The Lady Pirates fell in the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference final to Morgan State 4-1. Despite the setback, the team accomplished a lot over the course of the season. Now that HU has moved to the Big South Conference, different expectations are in the air.
“My expectations are moderate because we did move to a new conference,” d’Auvergne said. “We performed well last season, and the transition will be different. We will play very hard every game in order to gain some respect.”
Roman Elmore, a sophomore from Atlanta, wants Hampton fans to know the men’s tennis team is going full force during every match.
“With this being the first year coming into the Big South, we are now playing at a higher level of tennis, so we are expecting to play players that want to beat up on the new team on the block,” Elmore said. “To win, we are expecting to fight for every single match that we have.”
Last season, the Hampton men’s team finished its season by falling 4-0 to Morgan State in the MEAC Championship semifinals. While the season could have ended better, the growth will be put on display this season.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is our personal growth with the teams we know nothing about and have never played us before,” Elmore said. “This will expand our skills and ultimately take the tennis program to the next level.”
The HU tennis teams’ opening home matches are against Radford University – Feb. 19 for the men and Feb. 23 for the women.