ALAMOGORDO – Last season, the Ruidoso tennis team seemed to be on its last legs, with hardly anyone to put on the court.
This year, the team has grown, and coach James Cantu couldn’t be more proud.
“Our kids are growing exponentially,” Cantu said. “I have kids who, two weeks ago, were unable to get serves in, who are now acing their opponents. It’s almost incredible.”
Ruidoso is in its third week of competing, having appeared in the Alamogordo tournament and the Roswell Coyote Classic. On March 10, they were back in Alamogordo for a straight up duals match with the Tigers.
Ruidoso wasn’t able to win either team match, but there were several individuals that shone.
David Marshall won his singles match in straight sets with Keanu Tran, while Cynthia Mata won her match over Delainy Sanchez, 6-1, 6-2.
Mata also teamed up with Chloe Elliot to win at No. 3 doubles over Sanchez and Jaiden Graham – 6-1, 6-1 – while Sidney Davis and Christina Fragoso defeated Stephanie Mercado and Megan Montano, 6-3, 6-5.
“Last year, full time, we had a team of five people. This year, on the girls’ side alone, we have eight. We have four on the boys’,” Cantu said. “We’re actually able to compete. Today, the girls won two out of three matches (in doubles), so we’re legitimately ahead, which means we have a chance to win. Last year we could not say that.”
Even more amazing is how little experience some of these players have.
“Christian Castro literally picked up his first racket when we began our season. He had never played before in his life,” Cantu said. “What he had was a good set of soccer wheels and an athletic person’s ability.
“You show him once and he works it until he has it,” he added. “Before you know it, he’s hitting shots that he shouldn’t be able to hit at five weeks into the game.”
Cantu said that is an example of how tennis is growing at Ruidoso, and he hopes others can see it.
“We’ve got a bunch of kids who are just loving the opportunity. They’re representing Ruidoso,” Cantu said. “It’s an exciting, magical thing to see these kids reach from a bag of tricks and pull out all the stops to win every chance they get.”