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A Good Fit

In her final year of college athletics, Lolade Ogungbesan is having the time of her life

Lolade Ogungbesan

Lolade Ogungbesan. Photo: Paul Hokanson

By David J. Hill

Lolade Ogungbesan had one final crack at collegiate tennis.

She had redshirted her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, which gave her an additional year of NCAA eligibility. After graduating from Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in economics last spring, she started looking for a new school to play her final year.

She found what she was looking for at UB, where she’s been competing for the Bulls while earning her master’s in economics; she’s set to graduate in May. “I’m probably having the most fun of my athletic career,” she says.

Ogungbesan, 22, has been a key contributor, playing on the Bulls’ top doubles team with Chantal Martinez Blanco, on a squad that is flourishing. Buffalo was picked to win the MAC regular-season title and was a co-favorite (with Miami) to win the conference tournament championship. The Bulls won the title last year—and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament—for the second time in program history.

Ogungbesan grew up in London, England, in a family of high performers. Her father, Tunde, is the head of diversity, inclusion and succession for the BBC; her mother, Pat, works as the director of performance for the National Health Service. She has two sisters, Fehinti, 19, who is studying at the University of York in England, and Morayo, 17, a talented chess player on the English junior circuit.

Introduced to the sport by her athletic dad, Ogungbesan began playing tennis at the age of 3, won an international singles championship in eighth grade and spent four years at the prestigious Academia Sánchez-Casal in Barcelona, Spain—the same academy that trained former world No. 1 men’s player Andy Murray. The regimen of schoolwork, practice and competition at the academy was intense.

Her experience at UB couldn’t be more different. “The atmosphere is really positive,” she says. “It’s a different mindset.” She also has a female coach for the first time in her life (head coach Kristen Maines), a dynamic she says she prefers.

Still, the competitive drive is there. Ogungbesan is hoping that the final chapter of her collegiate tennis career includes a conference championship. “I just want to enjoy my last semester of college athletics, and help the team get to the MAC Tournament and the NCAAs,” she says.