NADIA VALDEZ IS YOUR TYPICAL MIDDLE SCHOOLER, WHO LOVES HER FRIENDS AND PLAYING HER FAVORITE SPORT… TENNIS.
Okay, the San Antonio Christian School sixth-grader is not exactly your normal Class of 2027 student. Yes, 2027.
Unless your average youngster is the No. 2-ranked tennis player in Texas for her age group. Don't let the sweet voice and tiny frame fool you. She's a beast on the court.
"My dad plays tennis and so does my brother," she said shyly. "My dad would bring me to the courts all the time when I was little, and I just started watching and then playing."
She's ranked 16th in the nation by tennisrecruiting.net and has big dreams for her future.
"Honestly, I don't watch tennis on TV," she said. "But I love playing. I want to get a scholarship to play in college and then go pro."
Whoa! One step at a time, here. Valdez has a 58-33 overall record and is considered a 5-Star on the recruiting circuit.
"I think my strength is my forehand," she said. So, what does your "average" sixth grader do? "I just go to school," she said. "I love school. My teachers are always kind and I get to be around all of my friends. It's great."
Remember, don't be thrown off by her syrupy-sweet persona on the tennis court. She's as tough as they come.
Hamshire-Fannett Tennis made school history by winning district twice in the same school year. During its first year of participation ever, the HF Team Tennis puts its little town on the map by placing first in district, with an impressive boys record of 54-0. The team then proceeded to win Area and placed top 16 in the state.
"The passion and hard work these kids have, allowed us to go above and beyond", says Head Coach Helene Czudek.
The team repeated their success story in the Spring, this time with a district champ title in all three divisions: Freshmen, JV and Varsity.
Drake Edwards, Jaxson Martin, Lucas Wheeler, Van Wilcox, Matthew Martinson, Joshua Perkins and Briley Parsely (left to right on the picture) all earned their spot as Regional qualifiers. Van and Briley end their senior year with an impressive 24-1 record, finishing with a third-place medal in mixed doubles at the Regional Tournament.
"I have never been around a team as close as ours. The past few years haven't been easy, but I am so proud to have overcome all of the challenges we had to face, together, as a family" says Briley.
Hamshire-Fannett HS was recently hit with extreme weather disasters. Hurricane Harvey, tropical storm Imelda and the recent winter storm turned the life of its students upside down.
Before Hamshire-Fannett´s Fall Tennis season could even start, hurricane Laura hit and destroyed its tennis courts with its wrathful winds. The team was forced to relocate to the middle school, where practice was held on a concrete slab intended for basketball.
Many players had been left without a home and holding practices with the entire team was close to impossible. Although it seemed like the story had ended before it had a chance to begin, the players decided to flip the script and write their own ending. Even with intense training and busy schedules, many players still decided to trade off days for weekend practice and extra drills, led by Tennis Captains Van Wilcox and Briley Parsley.
'We started holding team bondings after workouts, where we ate together, shared our stories, laughter, and eventually found a second family among our teammates.´´ says Van Wilcox.
With the right attitude, hard work, and discipline, the players began their run as the underdogs in Southeast Texas. Former college athlete, Helene Czudek says: '' We work hard to get the job done, but most importantly, we have fun while doing it! I am so proud of them for staying strong during tough times, that's shows a lot about their heart and character.''