Despite a 9-0 defeat in its season opening game in Mesa on March 4, the Pima Community College men’s tennis team hopes to qualify for the national tournament in Texas.
PCC Tennis Coach Brian Ramirez has a new outlook this year, although the team was unable to qualify for nationals the past two seasons. But he says the team still has “a long way to go.”
To guarantee qualification, the Aztecs must finish in the top two at the regional tournament. “We are optimistic that we can slide in there,” Ramirez said.
The Aztecs participated in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference pre-season tournament on Feb. 21 where they reached the semi-finals in both singles and doubles.
The team’s weakest point is the lack of collegiate tennis experience in four of its six players, Ramirez said. With only two returning players, Brian Soto and Carlos Medina, Coach Ramirez turns to Soto to take a leadership role on the team.
“He has still been able to play, go to school, get good grades and move forward and progress,” Ramirez said. “He doesn’t say a lot, but he is a great role model from the standpoint of leading by example.”
Soto, who played at number five in the lineup last year, was only one of two players on the team last season who had an individual winning record, with six wins and three losses, all to Scottsdale Community College. The team’s overall record last season was three wins and seven losses.
“Our competition last year was stronger than what it seems to be this year,” Soto said. “Scottsdale Community College is no longer in our conference and from the looks of it, seems we can beat Glendale and Paradise Valley.”
With the lack of experience from several players, Coach Ramirez emphasizes his training on technique, something Soto sees as a positive change.
“Our previous coach was much more laid back and Ramirez is more take charge and implement some new skills, which is great for some of our lower ladder players,” Soto said.
During the preseason tournament, sophomore newcomer Aldo Amaya had a taste of the competition he will face in the conference.
“We are going to play for a region one conference, which is pretty competitive,” Amaya said. “We are fighting against Paradise Valley and Glendale for the number two spot. I want to win the region, but being realistic, Mesa is pretty good.”
The Aztec’s next game is against Glendale Community College on March 25 at the Tucson Racquet Club, located on 4001 N. Country Club Road.
Click here to view the remaining games on the PCC men’s tennis team’s schedule.