The Hogs knew they had a bright outlook for 20-16 when Jose Salazar transferred from Oklahoma in the summer of 2015. Andy Jackson called it Christmas in July. They didn’t know, at the time, that Salazar could play as a Hog in 20-18. After all, he was nationally recognized by the ITA as the most improved senior player in 2017. First, consider his family situation before going to college four years ago.
“My grandpa got really sick and my great aunt as well so I was taking care of them before I came to college,” Salazar said.
After high school, Salazar played ATP Tennis for longer than the allowable one semester.
Getting four years to play college tennis didn’t seem possible at first, but Coach Jackson explains how a waiver was approved for Salazar in 2018.
“Nestor Briceno the guy that works with me here did a great job of documenting how much he played, how little it was, what the extenuating circumstances were, why he should be allowed,” Jackson said.
The approval came just prior to the fall semester. In turn, someone who won 30 singles titles for the Hogs in ’17 is back, and at the forefront for Arkansas in ’18.
“He was excited about it, and I was probably just as excited if not more, than he was. He’s someone who has been great for us the last two years,” Jackson added.
With a team-best 19 wins in dual matches last year, Salazar finished 8-3 in the SEC and paired with Mike Redlicki to make the Sweet 16 in doubles.
“He was good at the net, I was good at the net,
it was a good combination,” Salazar notes.
It’s a combo the Hogs would love to have again this year, but Redlicki’s college career is over. At least Salazar is back, who, like Redlicki, won First-Team All-SEC Honors last season.
“Not having Michael back, makes it hard, but with Salazar, it makes the transition easier,” Jackson said.