Tennis Tournament Honors Wildcat Juan Varon Munoz

Juan Varon Munoz in action
Juan Varon Munoz in action

Officials are gearing up for the third annual invitational tennis tournament named in honor of Juan Varon Munoz, a fallen Wildcat. 

The event will be Oct. 27-29, 2017 at Florida Tennis Center on LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach.

Bethune-Cookman's tennis team started the event in fall 2014 to honor the memory of the Munoz, who died Sept. 15, 2013 in a traffic accident.

 Juan or "Juancho," as his friends called him, was born in Armenia, Colombia. He showed promise as a tennis player from an early age. His talent brought him to Bethune-Cookman University, where he majored in business administration off the court. He was known for being an excellent athlete and as a person who always took care of those around him. 

To appreciate his contributions to the Bethune-Cookman tennis program, one has to look at his 2013 record that he amassed while playing hurt. Juan played No. 1 singles the entire season. He went 2-13. Sure, that might seem to be a forgettable record at first glance, but there's more to it.

"Juancho was more than just a tennis player here at Bethune-Cookman..."

The nagging leg injury that hampered his range and disrupted his timing never went away, according to those who knew him. Still, Juan and head coach Tim Pleasant knew that the Wildcats' best option for success at singles was for Juan to play No. 1 anyway, giving his Wildcat teammates a better chance of scoring the most singles points possible. 

So, Juan soldiered on, slowed by injury, taking his lumps against the opponents' best player. Thirteen out of 15 times he did just that. It was the tennis equivalent of "taking one for the team." 

His abilities on the court were respected by his teammates, but Juan was a great soul admired off the courts too. One of his childhood friends, now also a Wildcat tennis player, was senior David Ocampo Londono. 

"Juancho was more than just a tennis player here at Bethune-Cookman, he was a leader, a friend, and someone who would help anyone who needed a hand, " Londono said. 

"Always cheering the team, even when he was injured he used all he's energy to bring whoever was playing up...and off the court if you were really closed to him he would be always smiling, telling jokes, singing. He left a big hole in everyone including me, but with the Juan Varon Invitational Tournament we give tribute to him, bringing top universities to play it.... I think we should keep this tournament alive, to show him how much he meant to this program and also to the school," he added.

By Karen Romero