Laura Alameda has lived and worked here with her extended family for the last 8 years. She is the heart and soul of Casa Maria. No one works harder than she does.
Laura made it through 6th grade in Nogales Sonora.
It has been a privilage to see both her beautiful daughters, Carmen and Yanseli, graduate from Pueblo High School!
Yanseli is now a tennis star at Pima College!
This is her story:
by Yanseli Alameda,
When my senior year of tennis season approached at Pueblo High School I could not picture myself planning to play at the next level. I remember thinking, “how silly of me, I’m a soccer player.” Graduation passed and one of my biggest motivators convinced me to talk to the Pima Community College coach. That one decision has changed my life completely. Now as I’m writing this from Dallas, Texas, as this first year of collegiate competition is over, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.
We earned the opportunity to come to Nationals by finishing 3rd in our conference. Tyler, Texas in one week has grown on me. The inspiring stories, the emotions felt in the tennis court are something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
My whole team was so excited to play at nationals, the dream of every player. First round I had a bye for singles and didn’t play until 5:30 for doubles. The wait during that day was unbearable. I was there to play and I wanted to play already! My coach emphasized staying hydrated and well. I was drinking Pedia-light and Gatorade; all at the same time.
Enough about off the court, we played doubles and got off to a rocky start but regrouped and won the match. Most of our players still remained in the main draw.
Next morning I had a match against a girl that played a 3 hour match the day before. I thought it would be an easy match, being overly confident. I won the first set easy 6-3. Second set didn’t go as planned. I was up but then something happened that everything that I did right was now going wrong. I started losing and lost the second set 5-7. I walk off the court fuming in disbelief of losing that set. I was too angry to listen to my coach and she knew that.
Fortunately for me, my coach Gretchen Schantz, also a collegiate tennis player always knows what to say. When I’m angry it’s like I zone everything and everyone one, and for some odd reason, chewing ice calms me down. She got me ice, and she asked me what was going on through my head, “I’m so mad, I can’t believe I lost that set” was my response. Her calmness helped me get calm and regroup even though it took a couple of games to completely get back into it.
I started off the second set losing; in the first changeover she said nothing. I kept losing and I was down 2-3. My coach sat me down and told me these next two games were the most important. I beat her before, why couldn’t I do it again?
I went my back to my style of play, and instead of trying to hit winners every time I played the point. They were long rallies that got my opponent tired which was good. I made her moved from side to side until she missed or when I had the opportunity to come into the net.
Since my match took almost 4 hours my teammates were done playing and were supporting me. I cannot explain how much motivation and energy they gave me. When I needed a boost they said something, when I made a good play they cheered as if I had won the match. Those little things put together made me want to go out there and win for this team, not for my personal record. The push I got was wanted and definitely needed.
I remember, match point was the longest point of my life. It was a long rally, coming and going back and forth the ball just waiting for one of us to miss hit it, or to send it into the net. I kept moving the ball from side to side until she gave me a short ball and I volleyed it to the opposite side of where she was. She went for it, running and panting as if her life depended on it. She swung… and she missed it! The ball bounced twice and I could see the ball keep on bouncing behind her racquet.
I turned to my teammates and yelled lets go with my hand made into a fist. The overwhelming happiness I felt that moment I have never felt before.
My coach gave me a fist pound cause she’s cool and told me I did a good job. She had a serious conversation with me and told me that whoever has the most heart wins that third set. And I wanted it, but not just for myself. My team needed this win and it was for them and I got that win because of them.
It’s amazing how quickly friendships develop. A year ago I didn’t even know these girls and they turned out to be my closest friend inside and outside the court. The memories made in Tyler with Pima are going to stay with me forever and the connection with these girls will bring us a lifetime friendship that is more important than any tangible award we received.
I am looking forward to next season!