Named the 2016 Summit League Women’s Tennis Player of the Year, junior Julia O’Loughlin is a 20-year-old tennis star at DU. She grew up in Denver and moved to Florida when she was 10 to intensely pursue a tennis career.

Her mother played college tennis for the University of Connecticut. Seeking to carry on the family tradition, O’Loughlin began to play when she was only three years old. She grew up playing at Colorado Athletic Club-Monaco, which is also where the DU team practices and competes.

Before coming to college, O’Loughlin played for the Team U.S.A National Junior Team. At the age of 12, she was ranked No. 1 in the country for singles. She traveled the country and even traveled internationally to compete. When O’Loughlin was about 14, she played in tournaments in France, England and the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic, Team U.S.A competed in the Junior Fed Cup and took second out of 32 countries.

The balance between tennis and academics at such a young age was a bit challenging, but nothing O’Loughlin couldn’t handle. Since she was traveling so much, she had to complete middle school and high school online.

“It was challenging, but it was something I knew and I was comfortable with because I was with the same people everyday and everyone was in the same boat when it came to school,” she said.

Being from Colorado, her decision to return to DU was a fairly straightforward one.

“I love Colorado,” she said. “I grew up here and I wanted to come back. DU was one of the schools I was looking at and when I went on a visit, I loved the team and the coaches. I like that it’s a small school and the small, private atmosphere was what I was looking for.”

Tennis is traditionally an outdoor sport, but due to the weather in Colorado, the beginning of DU’s season is typically played indoors. O’Loughlin prefers indoor tennis because it has a faster pace and it is easier to control the ball without outside factors, such as wind.

O’Loughlin plays both singles and doubles for DU. She and her doubles partner, senior Maureen Slattery (Newport News, Virginia), have been playing together for three seasons. O’Loughlin and Slattery are currently ranked No. 13 in the country.

“Doubles is more fun because you’re out there with your partner. Having a partner really helps because if you’re not having a good day, your partner can pick you up,” said O’Loughlin. “In every dual match, we get to play doubles first and that can really get the mood set for the match. Doubles is super loud and super fast. Everyone is cheering. The whole team is right next to each other.”

The DU tennis season is just beginning and O’Loughlin’s goal is to continue playing the number one spot for DU in both doubles and singles. She also hopes to make the NCAA tournament in May. The highest ranked duo and individual in the Summit League Conference automatically advance to the national tournament.

After college, O’Loughlin plans to pursue a career in actuarial science. She is majoring in mathematics with a concentration in finance. She hopes to stay in the Denver area. Tennis will always be a part of her life, as well.

“I don’t have plans for competing in any big tournaments after I graduate, so I think I might take a little bit of a break after school, but tennis is a lifelong sport that I know I’ll play for the rest of my life,” she said.