Nico Leon, '20

Nico Leon sits on a bench on the tennis courts.

Junior Nico Leon has had a tennis racquet in his hand for as long as he can remember.

“I have pictures of me dragging a racquet in my house when I was two,” Leon said. “I started training and practicing when I was six and then I have been playing for 14 years of my life.”

From Guayaquil, Ecuador, the accounting and finance major wanted to continue his tennis and academic careers in the United States. In order to do so, Leon’s family hired a scout to look at and reach out to teams and colleges in the U.S. to help get Leon noticed as a student-athlete.

After a few colleges returned their interest, Leon narrowed down the pool to only a few schools in different locations around the U.S. He applied to schools in Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as Rockhurst in Kansas City.

Leon credits having attended a Jesuit school back home as part of the reason Rockhurst stood out to him.

“The way the Jesuits approach religious life, it’s more relaxed and lets you approach religion in your own way,” Leon said.

While being a Jesuit school played a large role in his decision, there were other factors that played into it.

“The offer was way better. The academics from Rockhurst are insanely amazing. I’ve made, by far, the best decision by coming here,” Leon said.

Playing tennis in college proved to be a positive readjustment compared to what he had been used to while playing in Ecuador.

“In Ecuador, tennis is not a team sport, it’s an individual sport. When I got here, it was completely different than what I was used to,” Leon said.

Leon explains the tennis team as being a family away from home, doing almost everything together.

“We practice together in the morning before classes, we eat breakfast together right after that. We go to classes. We eat lunch together sometimes, and then we study together,” Leon said. “We have that bond that not every team has.”