RUIDOSO – Ruidoso’s tennis team hasn’t had a full team for both boys or girls in five years.
For a while, it looked as though that might change this year, but last-minute personnel shifts have seen to it that neither the boys or girls will be fully staffed.
For Ruidoso coach James Cantu, that’s frustrating, but he’s encouraged by how the kids he will have are working together to improve.
“As always, I’ve had kids that have never played before, but now the veterans are helping teach,” Cantu said. “All those kids are teaching the younger kids, and the interchange has been really positive. I’ve enjoyed hearing my team explain the game to each other.”
Those that are back for another go-round are seniors Chloe Elliot, Poojan Karnick, and Sidney Davis for the girls, Alex King, David Marshall and Cristian Castro for the boys.
Basically, both teams have four players, two short of the six required for a full team.
That partly explains why Cantu has shied away from straight up dual competitions – one team against another – in favor of tournaments.
With two players missing, Ruidoso automatically loses points every time they take the court.
“We’re trying to get more tournament style play in and less dual style matches,” Cantu said. “My philosophy is tournament style play, you get more matches in.”
That includes a tournament referred to as AlbiQUE, which will be played in Albuquerque March 31 and April 1.
Initially, the tournament was meant to be the District 4-4A/1A tournament, falling in the middle of the regular season.
But the NMAA stated district tournaments must be held a week before state, meaning another tournament in Roswell at New Mexico Military Institute April 28-29.
There’s also a lot of dates on Ruidoso’s schedule that are tentative. The Warriors could see their itinerary change on a regular basis this season.
Still, that the kids are willing to go out and play makes Cantu a happy coach.
“This is not an easy game to pick up, and it takes a lot of courage to come in and try something like this,” Cantu said. “When the new kids can’t do it quite right at first, and I hear the older kids teaching and encouraging them, that tells me we’re creating the right atmosphere.”