The new Youngstown State Tennis Center was completed this month and coaches Mickael Sopel and Ulises Hernandez are excited for their programs to move into the facility in the near future.
The facility features six red tennis courts, which include two pickleball courts, locker rooms for both programs, a lounge for studying and watching matches and various other amentities.
Both coaches will be excited to showcase their programs once the facility is ready to be used. In the winter, the Penguins had to travel to Boardman for practices and matches. YSU had 12 on-campus tennis courts but with numerous campus enhancements the courts were turned into a parking lot in the spring of 2019.
"It's a great addition to our programs and will save the student-athletes time from travelling to practice each day off campus," Hernandez said. "With that time saved, they'll have more time to practice and will give them an opportunity to truly enhance their skills to the next level. We look forward to hosting matches in one of the best facilities in the region and this will have a tremendous impact on our recruiting."
Sopel, who has guided the women's program to five Horizon League tournament titles and three regular-season crowns, has had to deal with practice and match logistics for both the men's and women's programs in his eight years at Youngstown State. This spring, the women's team was practicing at 6 a.m. because of team schedules and court availability.
"The team and I are really excited about our tennis center," he said. "We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and we cannot believe it is there now and ready for us to practice and compete. The facility being right on campus, close to classes, apartments and the dorms, it will really be a game changer for our program. Our student-athletes will save a tremendous amount of time coming to regular practice, but will also be able to come in at any time to practice extra without having to plan for a ride like it was before.
"It will also allow them to better balance their schedule and be able to practice and study in an efficient manner. We have a group who are really motivated and knows what it takes to win Horizon League championships. This beautiful facility will add a new tool for them to train at the level they need to."