Daniela Obando is a sophomore exercise and sport science major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She was redshirted her freshman season. A redshirt is a college athlete who is withdrawn from college sporting events during one year in order to develop skills and extend the period of playing eligibility by a further year at this level of competition. Now, in her sophomore year she plays alongside her teammates on the women’s tennis team.
What was your biggest challenge for you coming from Honduras?
“I’ve been playing tennis since I was four so I used to travel a lot. I used to be away from home for months and I played tournaments every other week or weeks in a row, so it wasn’t a challenge missing my family. Of course I was going to miss them, but I was used to it. The biggest challenge was the language because I didn’t speak English before and I learned it in three months; that was my biggest challenge.”
What was one of your main concerns coming here to NSU as a student-athlete?
“I think that for every student-athlete it’s just, at the beginning being scared of classes and time-management. And when you are on the court, [taking] classes and having to balance a good GPA and performance on the court. So that’s the challenge that I face and will be facing for the four years that I are here, so I would think that would be [my main concern].”
How well have you adapted to the NSU tennis team now that you are a sophomore?
“It’s been good. We have so many international girls, to the point that we only have one American so that’s not easy because we have different cultures. But we all get along together and in the end, it’s never going to be easy for any team to get along with everybody. But, I feel like right now we have done such a good job and we are improving every day together.”
How do you balance your academic life with your athletic life?
“It’s tough. First of all, getting advice from a professional. We have so many resources that we can go to and that is one of the first strategies I use. And then I just give my best trying to [balance everything]. Sometimes I don’t even have time for my social life. Most of the time, it’s just tennis and classes.”
This being your last semester of your sophomore year, which semester has been the toughest for you?
“This one. Last year I wasn’t eligible to play so I wasn’t competing or traveling with my team, which is sad because I lost like a whole year. But, by not competing you are not as tired as we are right now because of the season. So, the first year I had time to focus on my classes a little bit more than tennis. But now that I’m competing again, I feel like this semester has been the hardest and the further you go in your classes and career, the harder it gets.”
How do you keep yourself motivated?
“First of all, my sport. I feel like it’s not easy, so if you want to do it, you have to love it. Tennis has given me so many opportunities like being here, traveling, meeting new people and it’s amazing. I’m really thankful for every person that is in my life and has helped me get through tough situations. So, I feel like to be motivated it’s just like trying to improve every day, and if you are in love with something — like I am with my sport — you will keep loving it no matter what the situation is.”
You and the tennis team have had a pretty good season so far, can you talk more about it?
“There have been some tough matches. Every match that I go to — even though I have won most of them — it’s been very challenging because I am playing with someone I have never seen in your life, so I don’t know what to expect [from them]. Tennis matches go so fast so you have to try to figure out how you are going to play against [them]. I feel like I’ve gotten more confident though and my team has been playing really well.”
Does a particular match stand out to you?
“One match that I’m really proud of myself and really happy that I won was a match against Barry University because right now they are one of the best tennis teams in the country. It wasn’t an easy match. I got the first set in that match, and I was just playing point-by-point. I was being very positive and believing in myself and I won the match in two sets. Of course, I’ve been happy with all the other matches but this one for me had more weight because I got to beat the best team in the country. We lost [the match] as a team, but at least I got my point, so I was really happy about that.”
Do you have some type of ritual or tradition you like to do before every match?
“I do. Firstly, what I eat is really important for me because I want to perform on the court as well as I can. So, I try to eat an hour and a half before the match. Then, for the warm up I listen to music so I’m not that nervous. It helps me to release nerves and stress.”
What got you into tennis?
“My family. We are all tennis players. When my mom was playing a Central American game for my country, she was pregnant with me, but she didn’t know at the time. So, I think it was meant to be for me to be in this sport.”
What are some of your short-term goals and long-term goals?
“Well, of course I’ll keep playing for NSU, giving them everything I have in every match. For my future goals, I want to give a gold medal to my country in the Central American games. The last Central American games we played we were close to getting silver and bronze. So, I’m working for that and then after college, [I want to] try to play professional tennis to see how that goes. If not, I’ll have my degree already, so I can work; I want to become a sports nutritionist and work with high performance athletes.”
If you weren’t playing tennis, what would you see yourself doing?
“That’s a good question because I’ve been trying to play soccer. I’m really bad. I’m not good as I am in tennis in any other sport. But, I love dancing, so I would probably be doing something around dance … but [honestly] I don’t see myself in any other sport … I don’t know if I would be doing anything else.”