Sept. 24, 2007
By Taylor Thomas
Purdue sports information student assistant
Passions run deep for soccer in South America, but these emotions don't extend as much to tennis unless you're Barranquilla, Columbia, native Jose Fuenmayor.
Fuenmayor's passion for tennis is one of three attributes Purdue head coach Tim Madden admires about his lone senior.
"He fits perfectly with what my coaching philosophy centers on: balance, process and passion," said Madden. "His priorities are in line. He came to Purdue for a well-rounded experience, then to become the best tennis player he can be."
Madden feels the best is yet to come for Fuenmayor, who played sporadically the last two seasons as a sophomore and junior - mostly in doubles. Despite the lack of consistent playing time due to various injuries, Fuenmayor is able to remain positive; an attribute, which Madden believes, extends to the rest of the team.
"Jose is the first Boilermaker you'll hear on the court," said Madden. "As soon as it's time to get to competition, Jose wants the energy level high and to let not only his opponents know we're coming after them, but he wants his teammates to know it's time to raise their intensity.
"In practice Jose doesn't feel like he has to do something. He asks, `what do we want to accomplish today' and `how are we going to do it."
As valuable as Fuenmayor is to the Boilermakers through his hard work and leadership, his opportunity to return as a senior was nearly placed in jeopardy due to external issues that affected both the team and his family.
Fuenmayor started his collegiate tennis career as a walk-on, but found himself in need of an athletic scholarship over the summer. Madden was willing to offer whatever financial assistance was readily available from the Purdue Athletic Department; however, all parties were forced to await a former Boilermakers' decision to transfer until very late in the summer.
"Being a walk-on is a challenge," said Fuenmayor. "You really have to work for all that you earn. The walk-on label builds your character and persistence, and strengthens your will. After I made it on the team, I felt so proud of the work I've accomplished."
A rejuvenated Fuenmayor has high expectations for the upcoming season even though the program is without four starters from last year, including his longtime doubles partner Eric Hodgman. The Boilermakers are still led by a youth movement, which features sophomores Paul Foley and Branko Kuzmanovic in addition to three freshmen.
Purdue's lineup also will be boosted by the returns of veterans Kelubia Mabatah and P.J. Rose, both of whom missed a bulk of last season due to injuries.
"I want our team to work hard and develop a strong team chemistry," said Fuenmayor. "With those things in place, I think we'll be able to set the tone and dictate the pace of the match."
Purdue faces a steep climb in the Big Ten after finishing last year at 9-14, but the Boilermakers should reverse their fortunes if they share Fuenmayor's level of passion on the hard court.
The Boilermakers' fall season begins this weekend at the Notre Dame Invitational, Sept. 28 to 30.