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Ousmane Diop’s American dream, from Senegal to Roxbury Latin School coach and teacher

Jimmy Myers
Ousmane Diop’s American dream, from Senegal to Roxbury Latin School coach and teacher
Coach Ousmane Diop surveys the action. PHOTO: Evan Scales

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In his 30th season as head tennis coach at Roxbury Latin School, Ousmane Diop can look back on his journey from Senegal, West Africa to America and the opportunities he took full advantage of.

“My parents sent me to America for a better education than I could get in Senegal,” says Diop.

The fourth of five children born to Amadou and Marie-Therese Diop, Ousmane Diop came to America to play tennis at the prestigious Phillips Andover Academy.

Coach Ousmane Diop BANNER PHOTO

“My family really believed in education,” he says. “The school situation in Senegal was poor. Students were constantly striking for better conditions. Some student strikes went on for months at a time, close to a year. My parents had to get us out of Senegal. My oldest brother came to America, and two older sisters were educated in France.”

The experience was not without challenges.

“At Phillips, American history was my greatest challenge, along with learning to speak the language,” he says. “My first four months were a major struggle, not speaking English, but I was blessed to get strong support from the faculty at Phillips Andover, which helped me learn English and American history and overcome the loneliness of being so far from home and the love of my family.”

Upon graduating from Phillips Andover, Diop would attend Oberlin College in Ohio on a tennis scholarship. At Oberlin, he met his wife, Julie, a member of the Oberlin College women’s tennis team. Their 20-plus year marriage produced two children, Sophie and Eric, whom they both taught to play the game of tennis. Sophie, a sophomore at Amherst College, played high school tennis at the Winsor School, the sister school to Roxbury Latin, the all-boys school her younger brother Eric attends. Eric, a senior and the number-two singles player on this year’s undefeated Roxbury Latin tennis squad, (13-0 in the Independent School League to date), will attend Bates College.

Pre-match player pep talk. BANNER PHOTO

The children’s tennis journey included guidance from their parents and beyond.

“My wife and I formed a tennis family with our children,” Diop says. “We taught them the basics of the game, and when they about 12 and 13, we decided that it was time for them to hear a different coaching voice.”

That coaching voice came from the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Dorchester.

“I have done a lot of work with the club,” says Diop. “It’s a wonderful club and a great place to be taught the game of tennis. My son still trains there in the winter and summer months.”

Ousmane Diop has put together a Hall-of-Fame resume over his 30 years at the helm of the

Roxbury Latin School’s varsity tennis team. PHOTO: Marcus Miller

R L S tennis team. His teams have won eight ISL Championships in the last 11 years, and have been ranked number one in New England in 2013, 2019 and 2022. Over his tenure as coach at Roxbury Latin, Diop received his master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and currently holds the title of chair of the modern languages department at the school.

But listening to him, you immediately conclude that his passion is tennis and the young people he is currently coaching.

“I have been blessed with the physical gifts to play this game — a game that helped me gain a college education and provide a life in America for me and my family,” Diop says. “I became an American citizen, married the woman that I love, and raised two wonderful children. It’s been quite a journey from Senegal, West Africa to where I am today. I get to teach a game that I love to bright young people at a wonderful school — Roxbury Latin — a school founded in 1645 by Roxbury residents to teach Latin grammar to local students.”

Championships and glory aside, Mr. Ousmane Diop is a winner in the game of life.

Ousmane Diop, Roxbury Latin School, Roxbury Latin tennis team

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