Tennis serves to victory

After playing against three of the top nationally ranked teams in the Trojan JuCo Classic in Oklahoma City last Friday and Saturday and then playing against local rival, Barton, in 50 mph wind, on Sunday, the Saints and Lady Saints tennis teams had a busy and tough weekend. Despite this, tennis coach Darin Workman is pleased with both teams. “They were so tired and sore. I know they hated it, and they’re probably still mad at me, but I was proud,” Workman said. “It was a very tough weekend but I was really happy. We are where I want to be.” The men’s team won against the eighth ranked team from Meridian Community College 7-2 but lost against Tyler Junior College 7-2 and Collin College 8-1 during the tournament in Oklahoma City. However, the team enjoyed a 6-3 win against Barton. The 50 mph wind was a challenge for the team. “It was tough; we couldn’t play well,” men’s captain Laercio Lobo said. The men’s No. 2 doubles team Felie Cruz and Raphael Machado won all three of their matches during the Trojan JuCo Classic. Cruz noted that this was his first time going undefeated in doubles with Machado. The women’s team won against Meridian and Collin both 5-4, but lost against Tyler who are ranked No. 1 and were last year’s national champion. “We beat Collin 5-4 which is always a top team, and it was my first time as a coach beating that team,” Workman said. The women also enjoyed a win against Barton, 8-1. Workman noted that the highlight from the weekend was freshman Salitza Abrantes who played the both of the last matches in the tournament in Oklahoma City and the duel against Barton and won both matches in tie breakers. “I was so proud of her. She was able to handle the pressure and come out on top,” Workman said. Abrantes feels she plays well under pressure. “Having the pressure of the tiebreaker and knowing the team would lose if I lost really helped,” Abrantes said. The first tie breaker was her closest as she won it 13-11. “It was really exciting. It wasn’t until half way though the tie breaker I realized it was on me,” Abrantes said. As the rest of the tennis players had finished their matches, they watched Abrantes finished her match. “Everyone from both sides were cheering,” Workman said. “We’re not just a boys and a girls team, we’re a Saints team.” Not only were Arbanes’s teammates supporting her during the match, but her dad was also there. “He started crying because he was so happy because everyone was cheering me on,” Arbanes said who is from Keene, Texas. Workman applauded Lady Saints tennis captain Fanny Benincasa for her support of Abrantes. “Fanny was probably the biggest supporter of Salitza,” Workman said. Benincasa said she sees the importance of supporting the other players. “Yeah, we can see when everyone cheers we are more motivated to win since we play for the team,” Benincasa said.