Women’s tennis: knowing what you want

Last place. That’s where Idaho State University’s women’s tennis team could be found during the 2011-12 season. The Bengals haven’t won more than four matches since 2003, making them ISU’s least successful team during that time span.
This year shows promise of being different. With three players from last year graduating, an influx of new talent could be just the thing to bring ISU back to respectability.
Zamira Vasquez, a junior in the Idaho State tennis program, said she sees a lot of positive change in the Bengals’ demeanors.
“You always get to see new faces and new goals,” said Vasquez.
Hoping to move from last place in the conference, Vasquez and her teammates are dead-set on improving. That attitude shows when talking about ISU’s goals heading into the season.  Collectively the team knows that there is nowhere to go but up.
“We think that we are going to do better in conference [play],” said Vasquez.
Unlike the men’s team, who only really need to improve on the road to make the conference tournament, the women’s program has a long path ahead of them. With only two wins at home last season, they will have to learn to maintain the advantage of a familiar surface. But their biggest growth will occur when they start winning away from familiar territory. The key to making the conference tournament, rather than just doing better in conference, is winning on your opponent’s home turf.
“We need to go on the road and win in the important matches,” said Vasquez.
With a 5-9 record, Zamira is Idaho State’s most consistent returning player. Her two years of experience as a Bengal make her one of the elder representatives of the team and her improvement will be important to their success. For her personally, there are only a few keys to collecting more victories.
“I just have to leave everything on the court. I have to practice hard and always keep my head up,” said Vasquez.
Next year the Big Sky will be adding Southern Utah and North Dakota to its ranks; they are both teams that Idaho State was able to beat last season. If they can just repeat those performances, ISU will have a significant hurdle out of their way.
Last season the Bengals were 1-7 in conference play. Those victories would have propelled them to a 4-7 conference record, enough to be one position away from making the conference tournament. All of the practice in the world won’t make a difference, though, if players lose their cool during matches.
“You can always do things in practice but what really matters is when you’re out on the court,” said Vasquez. That transition will be the key to a successful season.
Most college teams have at least one or two players from different countries. At Idaho State University, the women’s tennis program only has three returning players from the United States.
“In tennis it’s very common [to have a lot of diversity], it’s different from other sports. It’s really cool, you get to know a lot of people,” said Vasquez. Vasquez is one of Idaho State’s many international athletes. From Sorrento, Columbia, she adds to a unique and vibrant culture in the tennis program.
“There are a lot of people from different backgrounds on our team, especially. There is a blend and it’s so much fun,” said Vasquez.
The representation since she has come here is impressive, with former players on the women’s side from Spain, France, Germany, Columbia, Indonesia, Ecuador, Germany, Japan and Brazil there has been plenty of opportunity for a unique bond among players.
Vasquez started playing tennis on a whim.
“I would say it was just random. I always wanted to do a sport, there was a court near my house and I just always wanted to try it,” said Vasquez.
It was an experience that she fell in love with and has been able to turn into a successful college career. She has one piece of advice for anyone looking to play a college sport.
“You have to practice a lot but it’s really all about wanting it. You have to know what you want,” said Vasquez.

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