Like Ruidoso’s track and field team, Warrior tennis players are already deep into their season. Two weeks in, by the time you read this.
They’ve made appearances at Alamogordo and the Coyote Classic in Roswell, and coach James Cantu said the fact he has a full team to coach has been rewarding.
“The team has grown exponentially. Last year I had approximately five students who were on the team full time. This year we have eight girls and four boys,” Cantu said. “The return on the teaching of these kids is just amazing.”
Among those returning from last year’s sparse team are Erica French in her senior year and juniors Poojan Karnick and Sidney Davis for the girls.
David Marshall was one of the few boys on last year’s squad. He’s got the unusual status – for a freshman – of being a veteran on the team.
“I’ve got a spectacular crew and students with natural ability,” Cantu said. “Two of them are just now picking up the racket, and this is the third week they’ve been playing tennis.”
And yet, the hard work is apparent. Cantu specifically pointed to Cynthia Matta, who was part of a winning doubles team at Alamogordo.
“She hadn’t played tennis all that much,” Cantu said. “So I’m feeling very confident about where we can go after more than three weeks.”
Cantu said the growth has been particularly amazing because of the difference between practice and an actual competitive match.
Being in a tournament has helped them grow quickly.
“It’s very important for the kids to get a chance at that early. It was gratifying to see how well they rose to the occasion,” Cantu said. “Especially when you consider the fact that a lot of these kids had never even watched a tennis match on TV before.
“They participate in the tournament, they get the adrenaline shock and I had one student tell me they didn’t know they could hit like that,” he added. “It was very gratifying to hear.”