Liberty University freshman tennis star finds home with team and doubles partner
Known for its food, the Amazon rainforest and the iconic Machu Picchu, Peru is a famous destination in South America for travelers. But to freshman tennis player Micaela Ode Mitre, Peru is home.
Lima, Peru, is 3,418 miles away from Lynchburg, Virginia, but Ode Mitre, who has played tennis for nearly her entire life, made the long journey to Liberty University to play tennis.
“Playing in college is different because now you are playing with a team,” Ode Mitre said. “Now you’re playing for someone.”
There was an adjustment period for Ode Mitre, but it was short-lived, tennis Head Coach Jeff Maren said. Soon after spending time with the team, Ode Mitre was laughing and bonding with the rest of the girls.
“We have all the girls in one dorm building on campus, so she spent a lot of time with the girls on the court and in the dorms,” Maren said. “She was able to feel more comfortable because she was with the team all day long.”
Ode Mitre began her career primarily as a singles player in competitions in Peru. Now that she is at Liberty, however, she has enjoyed playing doubles with her partner Tiffany Nguyen.
Also a freshman on the team, Nguyen has been able to bond with Ode Mitre through their partnership on the court.
“Since the first day we played together, things have been really good together,” Ode Mitre said. “She has been a good friend to me off the court which is good because when we go on the court, we are close and that goes well together.”
Maren noticed the bond between the two of them and said that it helps provide a healthy competition between them that the whole team enjoys watching.
“Tiffany and Micaela have an incredible chemistry. They really like playing together. They motivate each other to play at their highest level every time they walk out onto the court,” Maren said.
During the recruitment process, Ode Mitre’s attitude and personality seemed to fit exactly with what Maren was looking for.
“We look for someone who is positive, enjoys hard work, enjoys learning and improving and someone who wants to do something for more than just themselves,” Maren said.
Ode Mitre’s tennis experience comes with several achievements, including being ranked No. 3 in Peruvian national rankings, being a four-time interscholastic champion and making it to the finals in the 2017 International Tennis Federation’s doubles tournament.
These accolades and high-level competitions helped prepare her for NCAA play, Ode Mitre said.
“Here tennis is really good, so the competitions brought me to the level needed to play here,” Ode Mitre said. “The competitions were at a high level and now I am able to play at a place like Liberty which is Division I.”
Ode Mitre’s focus and dedication to the game show when she prepares for a match. She often researches her opponent to figure out the best ways to win the match.
“I try to concentrate and come up with a game plan. If I know the girl, I know what I have to do to win,” Ode Mitre said. “It is good to know how she (the opponent) plays, her weaknesses and her strengths so that I can come up with an idea about how to win.”
Despite her hardworking attitude toward tennis and academics, Ode Mitre still finds time to have fun and joke around with the team.
“The first thing I would say about Micaela is that she is a lot of fun. She has a lot of positive energy. We really enjoy having her on the team,” Maren said. “She is very vocal and her energy is infectious, so we like having her on the court because we can all feel that energy from her.”
Dean is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter.