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Boys tennis: Addition of exchange student adds punch to Longmont lineup

Longmont High School's David de la Rosa Menendez, a transfer student from Madrid, is the surprise of the league, showing up at his first match as Longmont's No. 1 singles player.
Lewis Geyer/Times-Call
Longmont High School’s David de la Rosa Menendez, a transfer student from Madrid, is the surprise of the league, showing up at his first match as Longmont’s No. 1 singles player.

Longmont High School’s David de la Rosa Menéndez came to the Unites States to learn English. But, he couldn’t stay away from the tennis courts.

An exchange student from Madrid, de la Rosa Menéndez has brought his tennis skills to the Trojans, and is playing No. 1 singles. He’s also brought a little Spanish, soccer-style flare to the team.

De la Rosa Menéndez’s soccer cheers and songs have caught on among the Trojans, and have changed the team’s identity. He also announces the Trojans’ lineup in Spanish, and by nicknames, before each match to throw off the opposing team.

“In Spain, soccer is like a religion, and I know lots of soccer cheers and they’re really funny,” de la Rosa Menéndez said. “We do them on the bus, when we are stretching, all the time.”

If soccer is Spain’s dominant sport, or religion, tennis is second. De la Rosa Menéndez said tennis is a different animal in Spain. In Colorado, he has a chance to be one of the top 100 high school players in the state. In Madrid, he was ranked around 9,000 in the city.

“Here the people play just high school. After high school, it’s like ‘Yeah, I am done with my tennis life, man,'” de la Rosa Menéndez said. “In Spain it’s different. In high school, they prepared us for best level, for college and after college for professional.”

In Madrid, kids don’t play for their schools, they play for clubs. De la Rosa Menéndez even taught lessons at his club, an experience he brings to the Trojans.

“The biggest thing with David is that he’s just a great kid, and he’s a team leader,” Trojans head coach Michael Merz said. “He’s been showing them all sorts of soccer chants and he really gets the team motivated.”

Three days before tryouts, Merz found out from boys basketball coach Jeff Kloster that there was an exchange student interested in tennis. It didn’t take long for him to see the Spanish sophomore could play.

“I knew right away that he had skills and threw him in,” Merz said. “I knew he would be playing singles.”

De la Rosa Menéndez beat all three Trojans singles players in challenge matches and claimed the No. 1 spot. But, Merz managed to keep him a secret until he debuted against rival Silver Creek.

The Raptors won the dual, but de la Rosa Menéndez defeated Ryan Carson, 6-2, 6-4.

“None of our kids knew him so it was kind of intimidating,” Burns said. “For Ryan, it was a surprise. He’s a really hard hitter and everything, so it might take a little while for the guys to figure him out.”

De la Rosa Menéndez is a ground-stroker who likes to hit the ball deep and play consistent. When his first serve is in, he’s tough.

So far, the Spaniard is 3-3. He’s quickly adding his name to a recent trend of foreign exchange students arriving and competing in the Northern Conference.

Thompson Valley’s Martin Cobo, from Ecuador, won state at No. 1 singles in 2006. Niwot’s Wanda Holopainen, from Finland, took fourth in the state at girls No. 1 singles in the fall. Her twin sister Naomi took second at No. 2 singles. It seems as though every season a new foreigner arrives to shake things up.

“I think it’s just by chance,” Merz siad. “We’ve just never had a kid that was able to come in and play.”

De la Rosa Menéndez signed up with an exchange-student organization, which sent him to Longmont. Landing in Colorado worked out for de la Rosa Menéndez, since he loves to ski. And it worked out for the Trojans.

Merz said de la Rosa Menéndez’s arrival makes the Trojans lineup much stronger for a hopeful championship push at regionals. He expects de la Rosa Menéndez to make it to state, as well.

De la Rosa Menéndez has improved the Trojans enough for Merz to make him a captain. But, he’s mostly focused on improving himself.

“I’m working hard and getting better with my service and aggressive play,” de la Rosa Menéndez said.

And to learn English in the meantime.

“The idea of my father was go to the United States to learn English,” de la Rosa Menéndez siad. “English is for every type of job. I need English for everything.”

Brad Cochi can be reached at