Trailblazers prepare for women’s tennis Watanabe Classic

Ana Gutierrez Sampere, a freshman general studies major from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, plays a match with teammates after practice. The women’s tennis season starts January 2024, and the team is working hard in their preseason by competing in select tournaments with their final one being Nov. 10 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Miki Akiyama

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The Utah Tech University tennis team aims to serve up an ace-filled performance this weekend at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Watanabe Classic tournament. 

The tournament will begin Nov. 10 and will conclude Nov. 12 at the Fertitta Tennis Complex in Las Vegas. Utah Tech will send seven players to the tournament to represent the school.  

Players competing in the tournament include:

Eric Pelton, Utah Tech tennis head coach, has meticulously honed his players’ talents in preparation for this tournament. Pelton said he is constantly pushing the team to be the best players they can be on the court.

“For me, it’s getting them to realize that their potential is higher than they even realize,” Pelton said. “As the players start to feel that and they start to see that, that’s where their motivation really comes from.”

Pelton said they use their time in the fall to tweak and perfect each player’s game. The tournaments serve as a test to see how well the players can incorporate the skills they learned in practice.

Raquel Roshak, a sophomore communication studies major from Las Vegas, has put countless hours into practice, both on the court and in the gym. Roshak said having a good positive mindset is what sets players apart. 

“I like to focus on the things that I can control like my attitude, my technique, my footwork and trying hard for every ball,” Roshak said.

Doubles quarterfinals followed by singles quarterfinals will be played Nov. 10. The doubles semifinals followed by the singles semifinals will be played Nov. 11. Finals for both singles and doubles will be played Nov. 12 to close out the tournament.

Kylie Kezos, a freshman general studies major from St. George, said she has been focusing on improving her serve as she prepares for the Watanabe Classic.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” Kezos said. “I think it’s fun to get out there and play and do what we learned and practiced.”

Following the conclusion of the UNLV Watanabe Classic tournament, there will be no further matches until Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. The Western Athletic Conference play is scheduled to commence in March.