The University of Arkansas Athletic Department is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15-Oct. 15, with a series of stories highlighting several of our student-athletes with Hispanic and Latino American backgrounds. We will be publishing a series of stories each Wednesday during the month-long event letting fans get to know selected student-athletes and how their heritage impacts them. Check back each week for new stories.
Santiago Munoz is a freshman men’s tennis player from Mexico City, Mexico. It didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to be a Razorback, not only for the tennis program, but also for the top-notch education.
"I took a liking to the coaches," Munoz said. "Thanks to my coach back at home, he got in contact with Coach Cox and I really like how they run the tennis program. Also, I am in the business program here and the business school is very good here. On my recruiting visit the people were so nice to me I really wanted to come and play here."
Munoz has only been on campus for a few months but is already getting comfortable and enjoying his time in Arkansas. He is adjusting just fine to his new home and role on the Razorback tennis team.
"This is all pretty new to me," Munoz said. "I have been out of my country a lot, but just for tournaments. I have never actually lived outside of Mexico. I have met so many great people here that are all very friendly; it is practically like being with family."
Santiago grew up in a small town outside of Mexico City. In a culture dominated by soccer, Santiago found tennis. He fell in love with the game after watching his brother play.
"Soccer is way bigger than tennis in my home country and I played when I was very little," Munoz said. "My brother began playing tennis before I did, he is six years older than me; he is kind of my role model. I wanted to do the same things he did so I started to playing when I was four and I really liked it."
Munoz has transitioned well from juniors to collegiate tennis, something others often struggle with. He credits the smooth transition to lots of traveling growing up and great teammates that are experiencing similar situations.
"This is the first time I have actually played for a team" Munoz said. "Even though I use to travel with my coach and teammates back home I would always be playing for myself. It is very different, but I really like the whole team aspect because everyone is very supportive. There are so many players on our team from different countries, so it is cool we all share that. Everyone has their own ways of how they do things, but we come together and they are all great teammates."
Santiago has been successful at all levels of tennis and plans to continue his success for the Razorbacks. His greatest achievement came while playing in the U15-U16 division where he was the two-time national champion in Mexico. Throughout his juniors career he won more than 30 matches at tournaments in Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica. He is not satisfied with this success and is itching to prove himself at the collegiate level.
"For my freshman season I would like to make the lineup" Munoz said. "We are a big team and we are all tough players and we are all trying to get a spot and there are only six available. I really want to play and help the team get to nationals and get in the top 25."
A hard-working freshman from Mexico City, Santiago Munoz is an excellent addition to the Arkansas tennis team. With his junior success, great teammates and coaches, Santiago should prove to be a great pick up for the Razorbacks. He is a great representative of Arkansas athletics and his Hispanic heritage.