Men’s tennis player Daniel Cooper was only 12 years-old when he realized that he loved tennis. Even though he first picked up the racquet at age eight, it was not until he took lessons and played in tournaments where he developed a true passion for the game. Fast-forwarding to the present, Cooper is now a sophomore and a team captain for the Brewers.
Originally, Cooper only realized that he loved tennis after he quit playing basketball. This lead him to take sports much more seriously, and his high school team was able to achieve quite a bit of success during his time there.
“My team won league all four years, won sectionals my freshman and senior years, and lost in sectionals finals my sophomore and junior years,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “I was named All League for four years, All Section my junior and senior years, named MVP freshman year, and won the league and section doubles championship my senior year.”
Cooper has continued with this level of success into his collegiate career. So far during his sophomore year, Cooper is 7-6 in singles play, and 7-8 in doubles play, including currently-held records of 3-1 in singles and 4-1 in doubles during Liberty League play. Cooper is currently on a three-game winning streak for singles and is on a four-game win streak in doubles play with partner Alexander Luckmann.
This includes going against the other team’s top opponent in both the singles and doubles matches, including being 1-0 against regionally ranked players. Those numbers are extremely strong for third on the Vassar College men’s tennis team in wins in singles play, and the first on the team in doubles. “Individually, I started off the season slow as I adjusted from playing four last year to one this year, but have recently been doing very well, winning over regionally-ranked opponents in my most recent singles match and doubles match,” wrote Cooper. As for the rest of his team, Cooper is impressed. “Our season is going very well, considering that we only had two returning starters,” remarked Cooper. “I think we have exceeded expectations.” The team currently has an overall record of 9-8 and is 4-1 in the Liberty League.
According to teammate Christian Lyon, a junior, Cooper is a dependable and consistent teammate. “Cooper is the type of teammate that everyone hopes they have—he really does it all. He is always working hard in practice and is a leaser on and off the court.”
Lyon continued, “During matches, Coop is the guy you can count on to get the win, but he also provides a lot of energy that helps everyone else too. Even last week when Coop was hurt he was a big influence on the match, supporting everyone during their matches. I think Dan’s expectations are the same as the team’s goals, we want to win Liberty Leagues and win a round at nationals.”
Lyon also wrote that, “I don’t think Coop would be satisfied with only individual success as for him its all about the team.”
Sophomore Evan Udine also agreed with Lyon’s statements about Cooper’s energy and dedication to his team.
“Cooper is a great teammate. He always brings high energy to practice and matches, and does everything he can to support us,” Udine wrote in an emailed statement. “After our win against RPI, we can really say that our team goal is to win the Liberty League. I know Cooper had wanted to achieve an individual regional ranking, and that was accomplished after our RPI victory.”
Udine also wrote that, “As a player, Cooper is a fighter. He leaves everything on the court whether he is playing an easy match, or against one of the top players in the country. He plays every match like it is going to be the deciding point.”
On both March 31 and April 7, Cooper was named Liberty League Performer of the Week, and on April 3, he was named Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Upstate Men’s Tennis Player of the Week.
“What I enjoy the most about tennis at the collegiate level is the team aspect—in high school, tennis was primarily an individual sport,” explained Cooper. “There is great chemistry and camaraderie amongst the team, I’ve really loved bonding with the guys and being a part of something so special this season.” As a freshman last season, Cooper went 13-11 in singles and 15-8 in doubles, including 3-1 in conference play for both singles and doubles while spending the majority of his time in the four hole.
Hailing from Piedmont, California, Cooper was actually not a complete stranger to snow and the east coast, as he has family in both New York City and Connecticut whom he visited on occasion.
Still, he claimed that it was “tough to adjust to New York winters.” Still, the New York winters would not turn Cooper away from choosing Vassar College. “I chose Vassar because I had an awesome overnight, loved the coach and all the guys on the team and the campus vibe,” he wrote. “Other schools that accepted me were Wesleyan, Tufts, Colorado College, Colgate and Hamilton.”
Cooper is now a Biology major, and is interested in evolution and development. Cooper’s main hobby outside of competitive tennis is to casually play other sports. In his spare time, Cooper practices intramural volleyball and fire tennis, in which the tennis ball is set on fire. Cooper is furthermore a fan of his home town sports teams: in particular, the Golden State Warriors.
Coopers has some superstition to his game: “Between every point, I readjust my hat, shorts, and shirt and go to my towel.”
The men’s tennis team’s final home match will take place on Saturday, April 19 against Hobart College at 9 a.m. The Liberty League Championships will take place during the following weekend, from Friday, May 2nd to Sunday, May 4th at a location to be determined. The team will need Cooper to continue to come up big if they are going to make a run in the Liberty League tournament and beyond.