Hailing from Budapest, Hungary, Odon Barta leads men’s tennis team
It was a long journey to Moscow — a journey that took him from his hometown of Budapest, Hungary, to the U.S. for collegiate tennis with a stop in Texas.
Coming to Idaho wasn’t the expected landing place for junior Odon Barta, but both he and the Vandals are happy to be together now.
“I decided to transfer,” Barta said. “I had the summer. I went back home and I started looking for different cities, but I didn’t really find any. Pretty much in the last minute, I got a call from Jeff (Beaman). I didn’t want to skip a semester, so I took his offer.”
Barta transferred from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, an NCAA Division I school in the Southland Conference. Barta said the decision to come to Idaho was a good one.
“I like it so far,” Barta said. “We have a really good team. Last year, we won the conference. I really like it academically … The tennis program is really great here.”
The 2013-2014 season was his first at Idaho, and this year he has stepped into his role as the go-to player on the team. Barta plays mostly No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles for Idaho. He finished 17-20 in singles and 17-15 in doubles last year and earned one WAC Player of the Week honor.
Being one of the best in tennis is nothing new to Barta, though. Before college, he was ranked as high as No. 248 in the world for junior tennis while still in Hungary. His skill at the game led him to new opportunities in the U.S.
“I was really against coming to the United States before,” Barta said. “But once it came to the point to decide what I’m going to do after high school, I just really had to face that if I had gone to a university back home, then I probably would have quit tennis because the economic system is just so different (in Hungary). It was just a great opportunity to come here since here in the United States we have college sports.”
While the season starts to come to a close, Idaho finds itself at 14-9 overall and 8-3 in the conference. Barta currently stands at 14-7 in singles play, which leads the Big Sky, and his usual doubles partner Felipe Fonseca and him stand at 14-7 at No. 2 doubles. Both Barta and Beaman said they still have a lot they want him to accomplish in his last two years at UI.
Barta said his goal this year is to win the conference. He said he is also striving to be player of the year in the Big Sky.
“He’s a good guy and it’s good to see the progress he’s made,” Beaman said. “Finish this year strong, help us achieve the goal of winning the conference championship. For senior year, possibly win regionals in singles or doubles, get a national ranking while hopefully helping the team win another conference championship.”
Ben Evensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org