When Tom Brennan speaks, Butler students listen. It could be because of his unique background, or maybe because of his Irish accent; a different voice here in the midwest. While Brennan, a student-athlete on the men’s tennis team, calls Butler home at the moment, his real home is just about 3,700 miles away in Dublin, Ireland.
Brennan found Butler through the coaching staff of the men’s tennis team including former head coach Daniel Pollock. Pollock reached out to him, told him everything he needed to know about the school, and next thing you know he was on a plane headed to Indianapolis, Indiana.
“The idea of mixing my love of tennis with a high-class education is something that you can’t find anywhere else but America. I couldn’t have been more excited.”
Brennan’s transition to Butler was different compared to most student-athletes coming from far away places. He had not committed to playing tennis until late November, almost halfway into the first semester of school. He was not able to experience typical freshmen events such as orientation or Welcome Week.
“For me it was tough as I came in January, and so I had to settle in straight away. Everyone already had friends plus the added nerves of coming from a different country and new school system. I love the community feel about Butler though, it reminds me of back home.”
Prior to Butler, Brennan was a national junior champion in singles and doubles and former No. 1 junior in Ireland and represented Ireland in the European Junior Championships. He is also the No. 5 senior in Ireland.
Brennan knew in order to have a successful career playing tennis, he had to consider playing in America because of the competitive nature of the game here.
“At times growing up, it was tough to find good players to play with. After junior tennis in Ireland, there is no platform for tennis players, so the only real option is to stop playing seriously or move away to continue pursuing it.”
Moving away is exactly what Tom did, and so far it has paid off. During his freshman season, Brennan was recognized as Big East Player of the Week after two comeback singles wins against Depaul and Marquette. He was also selected by the conference’s head coaches to the All-Big East second team.
After his first season, the highlight of Brennan’s Butler tennis career was going undefeated at the bubble last year. However, he still ranks that behind winning the National Irish championships when he was only 17.
Brennan has had success off of the court too, settling into American culture and the Butler community despite the late start.
“There are so many people that want to help you and watch you succeed, which is great. I love the way Butler is a smaller school to really get to know people and make life lasting friendships. I also love being on a team, especially in tennis where it’s always felt like an individual sport.”
In order to avoid feeling homesick, Brennan tries to be present and enjoy everything that comes with this new experience. He admits that he sometimes goes weeks without talking to his family because of the busy practice and travel schedule.
“I try to keep in touch with my family and friends back home whenever I can. We’re planning our next holiday together this summer. Time flies these days, I just enjoy being in the moment.”
As for the spring tennis season which is underway, Brennan has high hopes for both himself and the team as a whole.
“I really believe that we can win the Big East title this year. We are maturing as a team and so come April I think we really are ready to compete for the title. On a personal level, playing at the number 1 position in the lineup, I would love to be player of the year, and I think I’m capable of it if I keep working hard and remain focused.”
Butler’s next tennis match is this Saturday, February 22nd at IUPUI, followed by a Big East match on Sunday February 23rd against St. John’s at the Butler Bubble.