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Thalita continues to aim high, heads to Toledo to continue tennis career PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 12:10

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Thalita Rodrigues signs a letter of intent to play tennis for the University of Toledo. L&T photo/Earl Watt

By EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

Thalita Rodrigues is no stranger to reaching for the stars, and she will continue that journey as a Rocket.

Rodrigues came to Seward County Community College from Brazil to play tennis for the Saints, and she won back-to-back Region VI titles, placed in the top five in the nation at the national tournament twice and was named a 2017 Intercollegiate Tennis Association All American, only the sixth Saint to earn the honor in school history.

In all, she turned in a 38-15 record.

Tuesday, Rodrigues signed a letter of intent to continue her tennis career for the Div. I Toledo Rockets.

“I really liked the coach and the campus, too,” Rodrigues said. 

She attributed the improvements she has made over the past two seasons to coach Greg Owen.

“My coach helped me a lot,” she said. “This was amazing. I learned a lot. I thank of them like family at Seward County Community College.”

Owen said Rodrigues was a difference maker, not just as a player but by helping recruit other players as well.

“She is a great person, great player. And not just a great player for our team but for our program,” Owen said. “She has helped us bring in other players. She is well known, very popular.”

And Owen expected that Rodrigues will be able to help Toledo improve on its 9-12 record from a year ago.

“They are getting an extremely tenacious competitor,” he said. “She never says quit. In the quarterfinals at nationals she was down 3-5 in the third set. That is one of my favorite matches of all time.”

That come-from-behind win was reflective of Rodrigues on the court, but even in her first match two years ago in a loss, Owen knew he had the right player.

“I’m not favorable of losses,” Owen said. “But in that St Petersburg, Fla., match, it showed us what we were getting,” Owen said. “She lost in a third set (tie) breaker, but we knew what we got in her first match.”

For the most part, Owen said his job ha been to draw out what was already there.

“We want Thalita to be Thalia,” he said. “Be yourself out there. She has worked hard to get to this point. Just be yourself.”

The All American Room at Seward was filled with her fellow teammates as well as athletes from other Seward programs — her college family — to watch as she made her commitment to Toledo.

“Thank you so much for being my family,” Rodrigues said. “I will always be a Saint. I love you guys so much.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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