Senior Thomas Brennan serves during the 2021 Big East Tournament. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.
MCKENNA SKATELL | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Born into a competitive family, Ireland native Thomas Brennan brings his ambitious spirit into every match. As Brennan goes into his final season on the men’s tennis team, he hopes to use this trait to his advantage.
“My dad was an athlete,” Brennan said. “He played sports back in Ireland and my mom’s always been very competitive. She always loved tennis. She’s probably the reason I got into tennis. I just love the fact, especially in tennis that I’m out there on my own, I have to figure it out. I think that even that drives the competitiveness even more because if you do it, you’ve done it without anyone’s help.”
Brennan showed promise from the beginning of his first year by helping the team win many of their matches, going 4-2 in singles at the number two spot. Before COVID-19 stopped their season, Brennan was one of six Bulldogs to have a winning season. During his junior year, the team made it to the Big East semifinals where they unfortunately fell to DePaul.
As a junior, Brennan was selected for the All-Big East First Team unanimously and again in his senior year. He posted a 13-9 record at number one singles in dual matches last season. He was also named Big East Player of the Week twice in singles and twice in doubles as well.
Butler men’s head tennis coach Sam Miles has worked with Brennan since his first year when he was his assistant coach. Miles understands that Brennan’s and the team’s goals are intertwined for the current season.
“I think it starts with — and he would tell you the same thing — winning the conference as a team,” Miles said. “That’s our number one goal. But for him, you know, we put together a really tough schedule. And you know, he’ll be playing at the top of the lineup, most likely for, you know, all of those matches, and so he’s going to have an opportunity to get ranked individually, in singles.
Miles believes Brennan has matured immensely since his first year, becoming more narrowly focused on his craft since then. Miles said he has developed great leadership skills throughout his time here at Butler.
“I think he’s done a great job as he’s gotten older at holding himself to a really high standard in practice as well as the rest of his teammates,” Miles said. “He’s learned how to become a leader not only just in his practice habits but he’s become vocal.”
This will be Brennan’s third year being selected to the All-Big East First Team. With this, comes the opportunity to play the best players within the conference. This gives Brennan a chance to become ranked in singles, which is one of his goals for the season. Most importantly, he would like the team to win the Big East Conference.
“I’ve always said that anything I achieve from a team aspect is always more important to me,” Brennan said. “Being the oldest on the team, I probably have the most pain when it comes to the conference because we have lost in three semifinals.”
Through those failures, Brennan found success in doubles with his partner senior Alvaro Huete Vadillo. This duo has been playing together for about two years and was ranked 52nd during the 2022 fall season. Over time, they have learned each other’s playing style and how to successfully work together to secure win after win. Huete Vadillo said playing with Brennan has taught him so much on and off the court.
“He brings a high level to practice every day and has taught me so many things,” Huete Vadillo said.
Communication is one of the most important aspects when playing doubles. Brennan and Heute Vadillo are able to bounce off each other’s playing styles to keep their opponents on their feet.
“It is everything…90% of it is just communication on how you understand your partner and how he understands you,” Heute Vadillo said.
Although this duo works together for their doubles success, there is a healthy competition in the singles lineup. Both players push each other to get to that next level.
“I mean, my personal goal is to keep challenging Tom, you know, and we’re playing one and two right now. I feel like for me, one of my goals will be to play one,” Heute Vadillo said.
Moving forward after this season, Brennan got the opportunity to be a part of the Davis Cup team for Ireland. Even with such a huge moment awaiting him, Brennan values the time he has had to play at Butler.
“I think tennis and all walks of life, when I get older, I’ll always be able to play it,” Brennan said. “And so I’m just happy about the opportunity to play in college.”