Center court with Miguel Reyes Varela
University of Texas freshman Miguel Reyes Varela has wasted little time adjusting to collegiate tennis after arriving on campus in January. With only a handful of regular-season matches remaining, Reyes Varela has compiled a 14-4 singles record and has excelled in doubles play. He recently sat down with TexasSports.com to discuss the transitions he has made to playing collegiate tennis and living away from his native Mexico.
Describe your transition from Cuernavaca, Mexico to life at The University of Texas. "My father was a coach at the academy I went to, so I had him there right next to me. Everything is a little different here, but the changes haven't been that difficult. I have felt great about this experience since the beginning. The whole team, the coaches, and everyone around the tennis team have been very helpful. They've made it pretty easy."
What do you miss most about your hometown? "I really miss the food. Mexican tacos are my favorite. I also miss my high school friends, especially when I call them, and they tell me all the things they're doing. At the same time, my experiences here in Austin and with my team have been a lot of fun."
How did you decide to play tennis for UT? "I've always known I wanted to go to college. I had a few offers from other schools, but I think the most important factor that helped me decide was my coach, who played at UT about 20 years ago. He told me great things about Austin. I've also known (teammate) Luis Diaz Barriga since we were 10 years old, so we would talk about what he was doing here, and I loved what he told me."
Describe some of your biggest obstacles you've faced since coming to Texas. "Speaking a new language was hard for me in the beginning. I spent a lot of time with Luis because he lives next door to me, and it's hard for us to speak in English all the time. Having all my classes in English was tough, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Sometimes I just get tired of speaking it and want to stay in my Spanish world, but it hasn't been that hard."
How does your family feel about you playing tennis in the U.S.? "I have three sisters, and one of them lives in San Antonio, so my family knew what it was like to live here. Sometimes I call home and really miss it. I know they miss me, but being away from them hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be because the team is really great and has made it easy for me."
When did you first start playing tennis? "In my family, playing tennis goes back several generations. Everyone in my family played tennis. My father is a tennis coach, so I've been around tennis since I started to walk. When I was two years old, I would stand with a tennis racket all day. I don't really remember it, but my family tells me that I loved it, and I wanted to just hold my racket all day."
How has the coaching staff helped you improve your game? "We have been working on some key aspects of the game, and, so far, the changes have helped. I've improved a lot, and Ricky (assistant coach Ricardo Rubio) has been very helpful. My teammates also have suggestions for me and will help me out."
Describe your relationships with your teammates. "At the beginning, I didn't know what to expect. Now, I feel like I have really good relationships with the whole team. The captain (Roger Gubser) and Hubie (Chodkiewicz) both speak Spanish, so that has made it a little easier. The most difficult person to communicate with might be Callum (Beale). I always tell him he doesn't speak English; he speaks Australian! He's my doubles partner, so I always work with that. I think the whole team has been really nice to me. They're really nice people."