Summertime had a surprisingly large impact on the ability of Española Valley High Schools tennis team to train.
Coach Nancy Suazo said the players go out on the courts after school and stay past official training until it gets dark. So the extra hour of daylight meant an extra hour of daily training.
Sundevils participated in the mixed doubles round at the capital invitation on 1-2. April. An unusual format for high school competitions, the co-ed competition allowed for some fun while contributing little to the overall team position.
“It’s hard to adapt, but it’s fun,” said sophomore Joaquin Salazar, who played on the No. 2 team with senior Daphne Talamantes.
“It’s just a fun day,” Suazo said. “It helps them work on their double skills in a kind of relaxing, fun way. To meet children from other schools and talk and have fun. ”
Suazo said they train mixeddouble, but only slightly.
“Double is double,” she said.
And they came a dice roll away from winning their four-team round robin pool.
The teams were paired based on the flights from the entire season – the coaches were not given leeway to try to create teams that could have more natural chemistry.
All players had to adapt to a different style of play and learn to balance the speed and hard blows common in boys ‘fights with the girls’ precision and shooting position.
But the best Española team, with sophomore Ian Gaytan and Olivia Suazo in eighth grade, won all three matches of the day while facing the best boys and girls players from Santa Fe High, Robertson and Capital.
Last year’s young Sundevil team, like everyone else, had an awkward season where the start date was moved to mid-April and the whole year condensed to about six weeks.
This year, still young, they can go on overnight trips for the first time since 2019, and that has led to a lot more ties between the team. And for most people, this is the first time they are going on these trips.
“Being able to go to the big tournaments again has been a lot of fun and a growing experience for the whole team,” said Nancy Suazo. “And it’s really nice that we have a young team that gets this first experience while they’re still young. Because it’s going to be common for them.”
“It’s so exciting,” Talamantes said. “We’ve gotten a lot closer, our relationship is so much better.”
She remembered 2020, when the team had almost arrived in Farmington before they had to turn around with the tournament, and eventually the season was canceled.
Suazo mentioned as a highlight of the year the team’s performance in the Roswell tournament in early March, where both boys ‘and girls’ teams took third place out of nine teams. And in the season-opening Santa Teresa tournament, they had the chance to face great competition among 16 other teams from New Mexico and El Paso.
“Our goals and expectations this year are just to improve day by day, battle by battle,” she said. “Next year we will probably set a few more goals on them in terms of victories. But this year our goal is just to develop the good work ethic, good attitudes.”
In España’s first mix-double team match, they fought Santa Fe in a draw and won in flights one, three and six. But in deciding the final winner, a roll of the dice came up two, which meant that the Demons’ # 2 victory became tiebreaker.
Afterwards, Sundevils defeated Robertson 5-1 and lost only to team No. 2. And they ended the day with a wealth of capital.
Team No. 3 by sophomore Jennifer Gallegos and senior Joaquin Suazo also won their three matches of the day.
“Dub city,” Gallegos told her coach as she reported the result of the third match.
“Dub city,” Nancy Suazo replied.
The Española girls team finished in sixth place the next day in more standard competition, albeit with more limited team entries and a strong display from Etsuko Yamaguchi in eighth grade. The boys team finished eighth.
“A great way to start the tournament tomorrow,” Nancy Suazo said after the mixed double.