Wise Beyond His Years

One big reason for the noticeable success of the men’s tennis team is Daniel Vallverdu, a freshman who came to Miami all the way from Valencia, Venezuela.

Vallverdu has emerged as a promising young talent with a great deal of upside. Before arriving to campus, Vallverdu played a year of professional tennis and competed for Team Venezuela in the Davis Cup.

Vallverdu said he loved playing professionally but wanted to try a different level.

“I needed a change in my life, so I decided to come to school, temporarily leaving my professional career behind,” he said. “This move was great, as I was able to continue playing tennis while studying.”

The Venezuelan native joined the University of Miami this year despite being heavily recruited by a number of top universities, including the Georgia Bulldogs, currently the No. 1 team in the nation.

“The other schools were never really in the equation,” Vallverdu said. “Miami was where I wanted to go.”

Thus, a single phone call from Head Coach Mario Rincon and a visit to the campus were enough to seal the deal and have Vallverdu dawn the orange and green.

Since Vallverdu became a Hurricane, he has done nothing but impress his coaches and teammates with his poised play, competitive nature and winning attitude. Despite battling back problems and various illnesses earlier this year, which caused him to retire from two matches, Vallverdu came roaring out of the gate. He posted a 13-5 record in singles play, including a couple of dominating wins over nationally ranked opponents.

This dominating nature has carried over on the doubles court, as Vallverdu has been paired with Luigi D’Agord, who is the No. 5 men’s singles player in the nation. The two are the No. 30 doubles team, posting some wins against ranked opponents.

Vallverdu’s match performances are closely linked to his rigorous practice routines, which include three-and-a-half hour daily practices and hitting the weight room two or three times a week.

“Hard work pays off, in sports and in life,” he said. “Thus, the harder I work before games, the better I will perform during it.”

Vallverdu attributes his success this year to his mental toughness.

“My greatest strength is my head,” he said. “I play smart while on the court, which allows me to control what I am doing.”

Vallverdu said he plans on returning to professional play upon graduating from UM. Until then, he said he wants to establish himself among the college elites and help the Hurricanes win a national championship.

Pravin Patel can be contacted at p.patel7@umiami.edu.