ational Junior College Athletic Association) National Championship in 2004. Four years later, the team is trying to get back on track, and some say they are close.
Last year the team finished second to Hillsborough Community College from Tampa, Fla. in the national championship.
“It was very upsetting to come in second,” said Iris Rendon, who is returning as a sophomore. The team lost by only one point, 44 to 45 with their Region XIV conference rivals Lee Community College from Baytown, behind the Apaches.
This is a new year and a new team with its goals set high.
“This could be a national championship team,” says Coach John Peterson. “Our strength is our depth.”
The women’s tennis team has 12 players on the roster, eight of them are incoming freshman. The team might sound young but there are also four returning sophomores. Returning as a sophomore is Sureena Weir, who was awarded All-American status last year. She is joined by sophomores Rendon, Kelly Rittenhouse and Vanessa Molina.
The sophomore girls have learned a lot since being freshman.
“More experience,” said Rendon. “I know what to do in a match and don’t get as intimidated.”
Chemistry is very important in a sport like college tennis where players act as a team.
“All the girls work really hard and have good chemistry,” said Peterson.
Only seven weeks into the semester this makes things a little easier.
“We all get along very well,” said Weir.
The Apache women have grueling practice and workout sessions. Every day they are assigned a court with another player by Coach Peterson. They practice by doing drills and playing matches against one another for qualifying spots. Their workouts consist of cardio and weight training. They alternate days by doing cardio workouts one day and weight lifting the next, but every day they do core exercises.
Recruiting for women’s tennis is harder than men’s tennis.
“Women are much harder to find,” said Peterson. It makes it hard when there are so many colleges with women’s tennis teams and in retrospect not as many girls. More competition, less product,” said Peterson.
A couple of the girls were recruited by coaches that Peterson knew. Rendon’s high school coach was coached by Peterson, and Weir’s high school coach, that is also the coach at the University of North Texas, knew Coach Peterson through tennis.
“Our goal is obviously to win a national championship but also to get better individually,” said Rendon.