The men’s tennis team added a player from Millau, France, this season, and to say it has been successful would be an understatement. Freshman Morgan Salvan made history when he won his 22nd singles match against the Arkansas-Fort Smith Lions on April 10. Salvan passed Darren Wade’s record of 21 wins set during the 1997-98 season. Head coach David Redding said he got in touch with Salvan’s agent and was able to set up a skype call with him. Redding said they loved Salvan’s personality, and after a few more conversations, he offered Salvan a scholarship.
“He is what I expected him to be skill-wise, but he is great in his ability to adapt to the United States, Searcy and the school,” Redding said. “He has room to improve as a tennis player, but he works well with the team. We affectionately call him ‘Frenchie,’ and he likes that, and he gets along even better than I could have imagined with the team.”
Salvan said his friends back home were in full support of his decision to join the Bisons.
“First thing I told them I was coming to the U.S., they said it was an amazing chance for me,” Salvan said. “Most people in France dream about coming to the U.S. They were all happy for me and told me to keep working hard.”
Redding credited some of Salvan’s success to his left-handedness because it gives him an advantage since few tennis players are left-handed. He is also 6’4”, so as long as he keeps improving, Redding said that he will be among the top players Harding has had in a while.
Salvan said coming to the U.S. was a great opportunity for him to become a better tennis player.
“We are from all different countries, so we know what it feels like to be over here alone and we are all close because of that,” Salvan said. “We are all very good friends, and I’m very happy to have these teammates. I’m the youngest on the team, and the seniors help bring in great leadership to our team.”
Neto Cacace, men’s graduate assistant, has helped Salvan in practice throughout the season. Cacace played tennis during his undergraduate years at Harding and this is his first year helping with the team. Cacace knew Salvan would break records.
“Morgan is a really great player,” Cacace said. “The sky is the limit for him. Usually people play even better into their sophomore and junior year, so I think he is going to keep growing and maturing. When Morgan played in France, he played on clay courts, so he wasn’t used to the hard courts as much, so I see him breaking records in the year to come for sure.”
Salvan is 22-4 in singles competition and will wrap up regular season play today against the Oklahoma Baptist Bison at 7 p.m. in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Salvan will later carry his regular season success to the Great American Conference Tournament on April 19 in Bentonville, Arkansas. For more information on the men’s tennis team, visit www.hardingsports.com.
Written by Anna Carr and Asst. Sports Editor Dustin Schandevel