Transcending the Competition: Kyle Dunn Drills His Way to the Top on the Court and In the Classroom

Tennis balls fly back and forth across the net as young men run in zig-zag patterns to thwart their opponents hard driving serves. Tennis at Division I schools is a blur of intense and concentrated movement. At Valpo, it’s especially engaging as a Horizon League Championship winning team includes Senior Tennis Team Captain, Kyle Dunn 17.

Kyle is a student-athlete on a mission to win on the tennis court and gain admittance into dental school.  As a senior and team captain, Kyle is an inspired leader, setting a high standard of excellence for both himself and his teammates. A team leader in overall singles victories, with at least 20 wins per season, Kyle’s effectiveness on the court is undeniable.

On the courts, “he’s smooth and quick — fun to watch … if he loses a point or has an error, he doesn’t react to it,” says James Daugherty, head tennis coach. “It makes him dangerous, he doesn’t come undone.  Instead, he remains engaged and bounces back — the makings of a great champion.”

Last year’s team garnered much attention throughout the season, winning the Horizon League Championship and advancing to the NCAA Division I Tournament. Kyle was instrumental in making that trip possible. “He’s relentless and consistent; he’s the perfect balance of leading the team by example,” Coach Daugherty says.

Kyle shared his mentorship strategy, “Give it your all everyday. Focus on the work to be done — on the court, in the weight room, academically. The team understands the need to duo focus on tennis and studies, and I think the team GPA is an important sign of the team’s character. I try to instill that play hard/study hard in all the tennis team members.” Coach Daugherty agrees, “Kyle’s priorities have always been athletics and study, with fun in moderation — this will serve him well in dental school. I have no doubt that he’ll be very successful.”

In the classroom, Kyle excels in both biology and chemistry. During the past 4 years, hours of study, countless labs, thousands of pages of reading, and intensely difficult tests have challenged him. Last year, Kyle was one of a select group of exceptional athletes named to the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll.

“Kyle represents a model of a student-athlete on campus,” says David Scupham, Ph.D., department chair and associate professor of biology. “He is focused, does the best job that he can, and is not very easily distracted. I’m personally proud of his accomplishments.”

Under Professor Scupham’s guidance and with hours of preparation completed, Kyle took the graduate school exams. He’s chosen to attend the highly competitive University of Iowa dental school in the fall. Kyle says of Prof. Scupham, “He tells us that we need to put in the work, ‘however long it takes’ to learn, that it’s not easy to learn this material, and that there’s no substitute for hard work.”

Kyle will leave the Valpo community a strong leader, a high achiever, a role model, and an athletic and academic all-star. In May Valparaiso University will graduate another exceptional student and future doctor of dentistry.