NATIONAL TENNIS CHAMPIONS SHARE THEIR STORIES

Collin College Women's Team pictured above.

Both nationally ranked this season, Collin College men’s and women’s tennis teams dedicated years of work to reaching the level required to be competitive.

Men’s team captain Chris Carrillo and women’s team member Lauren Clark share the stories of how tennis became their passion.

Collin College Men's Tennis Team

Collin College Men’s Tennis Team

Carrillo first picked up a racket at 12 years old.

“I was watching a friend hit against his garage and thought it was interesting,” Carrillo said. “I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Clark’s first love was gymnastics. After breaking her arm and shattering her radial faceplate in 2005, Clark’s gymnastics career was over.

“Starting tennis was a blessing in disguise for me,” Clark said. “I was heartbroken to say the least, and my family saw it. They tried everything to console me. It wasn’t until two years later, when my dad, who was and still is a tennis nut, gave me a racquet, that things began to change.”

At first, Clark found practicing boring, but after competing in her first match, she found a drive to compete and win had been cultured inside her.

“I fell in love with the sport,” Clark said.

At 15, Carrillo began playing competitively. A mere five years later, he’s amazed to compete at a national level.

“It is a great accomplishment,” Carrillo said. “To top it off, I competed on one of the best junior college teams in the nation. That is partially what led me to Collin. Their team is incredibly strong, and the academics at Collin are considered comparable to a four-year university.”

Clark describes playing at the national level as intense and energizing.

Women's National Tournament

Women’s National Tournament

“I have to keep reminding myself to have fun and play the game because my competitive side will sometimes become overpowering because of the electric energy I feel at the tournaments,” Clark said. “In all, the national level is a consistent thrill ride.”

But when the matches are over, Clark and Carrillo both claim tennis has taught them many other lessons.

For Carrillo, it was the patience. For Clark, it’s been about learning to never give up.

“I learned how to fight for what I wanted and to prepare in every way to be ready for that fight,” Clark said.

After Collin College, Clark hopes to get a scholarship to a four-year university with her tennis skills. Carrillo, who had similar goals, knows one day teaching tennis will become his full-time job.

There is no doubt that as I continue on living,” Clark said, “There will be a racquet in my hand.”

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