Oct. 4, 2013
Lolade Ogungbesan came to Pitt this season from London, England. The freshman earned the ISST Girls Singles Championship and helped her team finish third overall. An interesting tidbit about Pitt Tennis' new addition — she has written and published two books.
Get to know more about Lolade in this Q&A:
Q: Let’s start with your unique name. Where did it come from?
A: “It originates from Nigeria actually. My dad wanted to name his first niece Lolade, but my aunt didn’t like it so he saved the name for his own daughter instead. It’s actually a unisex name, but I’ve never met another Lolade. People really struggle with the pronunciation, but you just have to split it into three parts: LO-LA-DE.“
Q: Ok, LO-LA-DE, what made you interested in coming to Pitt?
A: “I sent out a recruiting video to coaches in the states, and one of the coaches who contacted me back was from Pitt. I researched the school, and Pittsburgh seemed like a really nice place! Pitt was one of the best academic schools I could find here in America and Pitt was moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference, an amazing conference for tennis. Overall, it was a great fit.”
Q: This is your first time in America; what do you think so far?
A: “Yes! I really like it; people are a lot friendlier here. People don’t walk around smiling in London like they do here. America really is not what I expected. I thought that adjusting to a new country would be really hard, but settling in has actually been pretty easy.”
Q: Are there any big difference between London and Pittsburgh?
A: “Food portions are so much bigger over here and food is much sweeter! I actually have an obsession with American lemonade; London’s isn’t nearly as good. Also, there is a lot of countryside in America. On the trips the tennis team has made to Virginia and to Maryland I was surprised by all the trees and open stretches of land.”
Q: How have people been reacting to your accent?
A: “I always get people stopping me and wondering where I’m from, and you would be surprised how many people ask me to say quotes from Harry Potter! Boys on the soccer team ask me to commentate their FIFA video games also; everyone seems to enjoy it!”
Q: You have two younger sisters back in London — do they play tennis also?
A: “My little sisters are 15 and 12 and neither play tennis competitively. The 15-year-old runs track and the 12–year-old is a really talented chess player that is one of the best in her age group. My dad and my godfather got me into tennis, but my sisters chose different activities.”
Q: The tennis team has played two tournaments this season and you already have one tournament championship under your belt. How have you felt the fall season has been so far?
A: “It’s been really good! This past weekend at Virginia Tech was a lot harder than the first weekend at the Naval Academy, but I have been really proud of the way I have been working and fighting. I’ve never played so many matches consecutively, and I can feel myself becoming a more fit and overall better player. It was awesome winning my first tournament. It was the perfect way to start my college career.“
Q: How does college tennis compare to high school tennis in England?
A: “We didn’t really have high school tennis in England. I actually trained at a tennis academy, Sanchez Casal Tennis Academy, in Barcelona, Spain from 8th-11th grade. The training is pretty similar at Pitt, except we do a lot more match practice here. Also, we didn’t do any weight training in Spain, so that is something that has been new to me. My trainer, Marybeth, is helping me pick up technique quickly though!”
Q: What is your favorite thing about being on the Pitt tennis team?
A: “I love all my teammates — it’s really true. Sometimes I just think about how lucky I am to be on a team where I actually like everybody because I think that’s very rare. The team is supportive, hardworking, and also is always having a good time together. We have some extremely funny girls on this team!”
Q: How have classes been? Do you have a favorite?
A: “I’m thinking about majoring in neuroscience, and my favorite class is biology. It is hard but it’s interesting. We’re learning about photosynthesis now!”
Q: What is your favorite thing to do at Pitt when you aren’t studying or training for tennis?
A: “I love hanging out with my suitemates and the people who live on my floor. I live in Sutherland Hall in a suite with girls on the soccer team, and we all get along really well.”
Q: Other than tennis, what is your favorite Pitt sports team to watch and cheer on?
A: “I go to as many soccer games as I can — both men’s and women’s! My teammates are helping me learn the rules of American football because it really confuses me, but I know more about soccer than my teammates, so I get to teach them something.”
Q: What is the best place to eat in Oakland?
A: “I’m obsessed with Chipotle! I had it my second week at Pitt, and it really was love at first bite.”