Tennis may be an individual sport, but Pablo Dale is a team player

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Pablo Dale gets ready to serve the ball. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette sophomore tennis player Pablo Dale said he first began playing tennis around the age of three or four at Enderis Park, about 15 minutes from Helfaer Tennis Stadium and Recreation Center, the home of Marquette tennis.

Growing up, Dale started playing soccer at the same time he first picked up a tennis racket. Dale also tried gymnastics and swimming for a few years as well.

Ultimately, Dale stuck with the sport he found himself best at.

“I was honestly better at tennis, and I really liked the individual aspect of it,” Dale said.

As he grew up, Dale improved his game as he became the best player in the state for his class according to Tennis Recruiting Network. In his high school career at Brookfield Academy, Dale won the Division II singles state championship twice.

“Those two state titles, those days are probably some of the best days of my life,” Dale said. “I remember it like it was yesterday.”

After COVID-19 canceled spring sports in 2020, Dale wasn’t able to go for a three-peat but got creative to continue working on his game.

“We have a two-car garage and we set up a tarp hanging from the ceiling. My dad would feed me balls and I just hit it against the tarp,” Dale said. “That’s pretty much all we could do for a couple months.”

With Dale’s father Scott being a professor in Marquette’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, he said it allowed him to know Marquette head coach Steve Rodecap before he committed to the Golden Eagles.

“I’ve known coach Rodecap for as long as I can remember,” Dale said. “I actually hit here, trained here for a long time so Marquette’s always really been in the picture.”

For Rodecap, he said that the recruitment of Dale and those who he’s had a previous relationship with is harder than most.

“Those guys are almost harder to recruit because you’ve known them for so long and there’s a personal side of it and you don’t ever want to cross that line,” Rodecap said. “I wanted the decision to be his more than anything.”

Since arriving on campus and now being in his second year, Dale said his expectations have been surpassed and his appreciation for Marquette has only grown.

“They’ve exceeded my expectations honestly; I couldn’t be happier here. Every day, I honestly love it more and more,” Dale said. “I’m just really happy to be here.”

Playing close to home has its perks and for Dale he said it has been his favorite part of playing at his hometown school.

“The best part of it is my parents coming to watch me play every match and coming to watch the team play,” Dale said.

When it comes to the game of tennis, Rodecap’s expectation for Dale is that he wants to see him strive to become a better player.

“Number one is that wanting to continue to get better,” Rodecap said. “I mean, I knew exactly what I was getting when he came in here.”

Tennis is an individual sport at its core, with there being no teammates playing with each other aside from during doubles. However, playing college tennis means you play for a team and how you play impacts not only oneself but the team at large. By playing for a team, Rodecap has found Dale’s personality to help the team.

“He is what I would consider a ‘spark plug’ type guy. I mean he has really good juice, really good energy all the time. It’s kind of infectious to the rest of the guys,” Rodecap said. “So it’s important that he’s always in the mix that way.”

Being a team player and getting along with everyone may be why Rodecap said that Dale is universally loved within the program.

“I think genuinely every guy in our program loves him,” Rodecap said. “I think that for the team morale, I think that he’s really important that way and I think his teammates love having him a part of the program.”

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.