by ARMANDO HARMON
Last season, the women’s tennis team took an early exit from the NJCAA Division I National Team Tournament. With only six freshmen last year, the Aztecs took fourth in regionals.
For the men’s team, this year will be different because there is only one returning player back to finish what he started. Sophomore Francisco Sotelo looks to lead his young team back to nationals.
This is also new for head coach Ian Esquer as he is the man behind the magic, looking to lead both teams back to where they left off.
The women’s tennis team of Pima Community College are looking to advance further than last season.
This year, the team is back with returning players such as sophomores Lien Nguyen and Emma Oropeza, who are looking to finish strong.
Last season, the Aztecs finished the season with 5.5 points at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. Sophomore Lien Nguyen fell in her No. 3 singles consolation finals match. Nguyen trailed for most of the match and surrendered the final 3 points. In the Region I Championships, Pima took fourth place.
“Last season was tough,” Emma Oropeza said. “This year it’s going to be the same competition, but I feel like we are more ready this season.”
Before Pima, Esquer was an assistant coach for the women’s team at the University of Arizona.
“When it comes to talent, the girls are all evenly skilled,” Esquer said. “ I expect big things for each and every one of them.”
The men’s tennis team looks to kick off the season with many new faces on the roster.
The Aztecs finished in 15th place out of the 26 teams at Nationals. In the Region I Championships, Pima took second place.
Sophomore Francisco Sotelo is the only returning player for the Aztecs this season. Last season, Sotelo fell in the consolation finals match at No. 4.
Freshmen Cody Petford is looking to accomplish big things this season. Petford graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School and has been playing tennis his whole life.
“My goal for the season is tobecome an All- American,” said Petford “It’s something I want and I’m working towards.”
“We are trying to win regionals first this year, after that we plan to qualify for Nationals” said Esquare “I’m excited for these new group of guys and I like to see what they can bring.”
Feb 17: @ Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson (ACCAC Preseason Tournament) 8 a.m.