Mell Reasco and Guillermina Grant are both sophomores at the University of Georgia, after joining the team in the 2021-22 season as two of South America’s top-ranked junior players. Playing in big moments as freshmen, both Reasco and Grant were a part of the Georgia team that reached the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament in 2022, and who finished the year ranked as the No. 12 ranked team in the nation.
Reasco, who is a native of Quito, Ecuador, came to Georgia as one of the top junior players in South America, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 20 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Rankings, while also competing in numerous Grand Slam Junior Championships. In her freshman season in 2021-22, Reasco showed why she was such a highly regarded junior player as she would finish the season ranked No. 21 in the ITA Singles Rankings with a 27-9 overall record, and went 23-12 in doubles as well.
Finishing with 11 ranked wins on the year, Reasco earned ITA All-America honors for singles and was named to All-Freshman SEC Team as well as First Team All-SEC. Heading into the 2022-23 season, Reasco ranks No. 13 in the ITA Preseason Singles Rankings and will look to lead the Georgia team to yet another NCAA Tournament berth this season.
Grant, who is a native of Montevideo, Uruguay, was another top-ranked South American junior before joining the Bulldogs, finishing with a career-high ranking of No. 31 in the ITF World Junior Rankings. Grant has competed in multiple Grand Slam Junior Championships and represented Uruguay in FedEx Cup competitions in 2017 and 2019.
In her freshman season, Grant finished with a singles record of 12-3 and a doubles record of 15-10 across all competition. Grant ranked No. 50 in the ITA Doubles Rankings with teammate Ania Hertel and was named to the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
In this Q&A, Reasco and Grant describe their journey to becoming student-athletes and what it is like to transition from their home countries to a new culture and environment at Georgia.
ITA | How did you first get started in tennis?
MR: I started playing because I wanted to be with my best friend, and my mother was going to the gym when it was time to train. Besides, my whole family is athletes, my dad is a former soccer player and my brother is playing professionally now, so I have always been involved in sports.
GG: My mom was a tennis coach and I wanted to spend time with her!
ITA | When did you decide that college tennis was the path for you, and what was the process like choosing a school so far away from home?
MR: I decided during the covid year because you never know what can happen, and having a degree or more paths to look at is what made me realize that college would be good for me.
GG: One of my friends always told me college was a great idea, so during my senior year of high school, I started to look for possible schools. Tennis was great, but I really wanted to keep studying, so playing tennis in college was a great combination.
ITA | Can you describe your experience transitioning from your home country to the University of Georgia?
MR: It was kind of easy. I am used to not being at home, and our team at Georgia is very international, so everyone was really supportive.
GG: It is different than at home, but I really like it! I made friends from different sports and they have become my family in Athens!
ITA | Culturally, what were some of the things that might have been harder to adjust to coming from your home country to the United States?
MR: Especially here in Athens, there are not a lot of international students. It’s sometimes uncomfortable when people ask me where I’m from, or when I speak ask why I have an accent.
GG: The language, especially at the beginning.
ITA | What are some parts of your Hispanic culture which you value the most and have made the biggest impact on your life?
MR: Just being close with people, always trying to have an effect on someone. Being polite, friendly, and always having a smile.
GG: We are very welcoming and care about others!
ITA | What role do your teammates and coaches play in making you feel at home away from home when you are on campus?
MR: We always try to share things that we are used to doing in our countries. I love it when they play Hispanic music during our workouts or when we are traveling and my teammates try to learn words in Spanish.
GG: They are like my family. Especially during hard days, I know I can rely on them!
ITA | Whether in tennis or outside of tennis, what are some goals that you have for yourself?
MR: I want to grow as a person, believe in myself, and be interested in other things besides tennis.
GG: Enjoy life!
ITA | What would be your advice to any young Hispanic players who might want to pursue a career in tennis, especially at the collegiate level?
MR: You have to work hard to get where you want and achieve your goals. Never think that a college is too good for you. You always have an opportunity to go and can give back to the community. A lot of people have this thought that if you don’t speak fluent English you can’t go to college, but every college has resources that can help you to get better. Everyone has challenges to overcome, but you just need to keep going.
GG: Don’t be afraid. College is a great experience, and you create awesome memories! Playing tennis as a team changed the way I see the sport, it’s so much better!