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Tennis signs first American athlete in three years

Tennis signs first American athlete in three years

Mean Green tennis signs freshman Alexis Thoma in November. Thoma is the first American player to be on the team since 2010. Photo by Nicole Arnold/ Senior Staff Photographer

Tennis signs first American athlete in three years
May 22
12:44 2013

Tyler Owens / Senior Staff Writer

The vast diversity of cultures on the UNT tennis team has grown even more in recent months as the Mean Green has signed two freshmen – Alexis Thoma and Ana Sofia Cordero – to letters of intent.

Thoma, who is from Frisco, is the first American student-athlete to join the team since the 2009-2010 season.

“I feel like a better player when I’m out here training with everyone,” Thoma said. “I honestly don’t think I could have chosen a better team or another school.”

Head coach Sujay Lama said that the team signing players of Thoma’s caliber reflects how far the program has come in the last few years.

When Lama joined the team in 2006, UNT was ranked last in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mean Green has now won three SBC championships in the past four years, including back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

“When you finally get a top kid like Alexis, who is a top-ten kid in Texas, I think it gives credibility,” Lama said. “And really, I think it is the success we’ve had and the consistency of that success.”

With the addition of Thoma and Cordero, who is from Puerto Rico, the team features student-athletes from seven countries.

Lama and sophomore Danè Joubert, from South Africa, said the team’s diversity only improves the way players work together.

“It’s hard for us to suit with all our differences,” Joubert said. “But in a way we make it a healthy environment, and we all boost each other in a positive way. We get along because of our attitude and staying positive together and motivating each other. Everyone has the same goals, so that makes it easier.”

Freshman Alexis Thoma practices her serve on Monday morning at the Waranch Tennis Complex. She is the first American player on the tennis team since the 2009-2010 season. Photo by Nicole Arnold/ Senior Staff Photographer.

Assistant coach Wade Zimmerman said that Cordero is an impact player who brings a lot of experience to the team. Cordero played for the Puerto Rican international Fed Cup team and in the International Tennis Federation junior circuit last year.

Familiar challenges lie ahead for the Mean Green as it transitions to Conference USA this year.

As of May 2, C-USA has four teams – No. 22 Rice University, the No. 27 University of Tulsa and No. 49 Tulane University – in the International Collegiate Tennis Association top 50. UNT is currently ranked No. 60.

Lama compared the task ahead of him to the task he faced when he joined the team in the Sun Belt.

“I do like that we have teams like Tulsa and Rice that are targets out there like a measuring stick,” he said.

The Mean Green intends to sign two more players before the fall season begins.

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