By George Schroeder | LTVN Executive Producer, Joe Pratt | LTVN Sports Director
For Soto, representing his country was always a dream, and now he’s representing Chile for the third time in his career.
“It’s always been the most important tournament when it comes to teams in defending [your] country, so it’s always an honor for everyone to play [in the] Davis Cup,” Soto said. “It’s an unbelievable experience.”
It’s no small feat to play on such a grand stage, and while Soto’s 532nd ATP singles ranking may not seem impressive at first glance, he is a top-five tennis player in Chile. Boitan is a top-five player in Romania at 613th.
Boitan will take on Slovakia while Soto faces Peru Friday to start the tournament, a rivalry which he described in very familiar terms.
“It’s like Baylor and TCU,” Soto said. “We are main rivals in everything, culture, politics and everything. This match is not just tennis, there is a lot behind it.”
While at Baylor, neither Boitan nor Soto had the opportunity to play professionally consistently. Soto said there were points when he was ready to start his career as a pro.
“Don’t get me wrong, I was lucky to be part of Baylor and compete in college tennis,” Soto said. “It was four amazing years, but I was ready to move on to do what I wanted to do for such a long time: to be in the professional tour consistently.”
But focusing on Baylor wasn’t a wrong decision for Soto according to Bears head coach Michael Woodson, who said there was no doubt his former athletes would go pro.
“Being at Baylor has allowed them to take their games to the next level, prepare themselves on and off the court — personally and professionally — to take this next step,” Woodson said. “It’s a huge honor for them and very exciting for us to have guys representing their countries at this level.”
Woodson said both athletes’ focus and commitment to the game has driven them to this point, and Boitan should deliver results for Romania.
“He really believes in himself, backs himself under pressure and knows how to wear guys down in that moment,” Woodson said. “The bigger the stage, the better his tennis is.”
Soto said simply staying fit, along with constant practice, helped his summer ranking to improve which he hopes will now set him up for success in the tournament.
“I’m practicing every day getting into fitness,” Soto said. “For me, it’s to be healthy, be able to compete and feel good with my body and feel fast and cool. That’s very important for me.”
Woodson said his players want to make it at the next level, and athletes like Soto and Boitan are important because they show where you can go after hard work and playing for Baylor.
“We have to be able to point to guys that have had success here and then have gone on and done it at the next level,” Woodson said. “We need guys to go on and not just have success here at Baylor. I think one of the biggest recruiting tools we have here is that we have a team full of really high-level players.”