The success of the Apache tennis program is well known by opponents, hopeful recruits, and anyone else familiar with Tyler in general. But what most outside the program aren’t familiar with is the success the players have in the classroom. Although there are several factors that contribute to the players’ achievements, there is one common attribute that all the player’s share-a great mind.”We’ve got great kids,” Head Coach John Peterson said. “Typically our players do well when it comes to grades. Our team GPA is usually around 3.5.”It appears that Peterson has gotten through to his players about the importance of making good grades as he went on to say that 95 percent of his players go on to graduate from TJC and from a four-year university.Peterson points to the players as the reason for the success of the program. And even though his rosters are filled with foreign-born players, he and his coaching staff don’t scour the globe looking for talented recruits, as most would expect. “We get a lot of support from the town and with our reputation and our facilities, it isn’t hard to convince players to come here,” Peterson said. “I haven’t had to recruit a (foreign) player in a long time. They recruit us.”With many available players on the men’s and women’s roster, the ability and talent of each player isn’t the only determining factor when it comes to who plays and who doesn’t. Players know they must keep their grades up or risk the possibility of another player filling their spot. “Coach usually puts a lot of pressure on us to have good grades and keep our GPA up,” freshman Colby Meeks said. “The tutors are helpful.”As the spring season begins, so does individual play with a number of matches on the road. The players will again be faced with the task of attempting to stay on top of their game as well as on top of their studies.”It can get pretty tough if you don’t keep up with your work,” Meeks said. In order to relieve some of the stress that can occur, the players make sure to stay close with their professors.”We talk to our teachers and ask about test dates before we go on the road and play,” German sophomore John DeVosa said. “We try to complete everything, manage our work and stay in close contact with our teachers.”But if one of the players does get behind and is having trouble, they don’t have to go far for help.”If one of us is struggling, like us foreigners, we can usually just go to one of the other – see tennis page 9 -players for help, usually one of the American players,” DeVosa said.Coach Peterson stresses good grades to his players because of his knowledge that in order for them to fulfill their dreams of one day playing at a NCAA Division I university, they must show they are capable of maintaining good grades while also playing tennis.”Keeping our GPA up is important to us because other schools are always looking to make sure we are responsible by showing we can do that and play tennis,” DeVosa said.Staying on top of their workload also helps some of the players perform better on the court.”If you’re doing your work and you’re getting everything done it helps you stay focused because you don’t have to worry about if you have to study or do homework while trying to play,” Ukrainian sophomore Mariya Slupska said.The men and women will both resume play in February ranked in the nation number one and two respectively by ITATennis.com. But after a somewhat disappointing fall season, Peterson acknowledges that his teams won’t be handed a championship because of their rankings.”We’ll have a shot at the championship, but we’ve still got work to do,” Peterson said.

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