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Comas makes impact as a freshman

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(Amanda Johnson/Collegian)

Julia Comas, the 5’11” freshman from Barcelona, wasted no time in making an impact on the Massachusetts tennis team this fall.

In the team’s first official match of the season versus Holy Cross, Comas was absolutely dominant. She joined with last year’s Atlantic-10 Most Outstanding Rookie Magdalena Ploch to win a perfect 8-0 doubles victory. She then defeated her opponent in her singles match in two straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.

The lopsided wins were just the first of many victories for the No. 2 singles player, who has so far lived up to expectations held by her coach, Judy Dixon.

“Julia has made a difference on this team,” Dixon said. “We made a great choice.”

Dixon began recruiting Comas last March through an agency that represents international players. The process of recruiting internationally can be difficult, she said, particularly because there is no room in the budget to visit players in other countries.

“Recruiting internationally is a roll of the dice. You’re absolutely reliant on the agencies and not all of them have the school’s best interest at heart,” she said.

In the case of Comas, Dixon had faith in the agency. Through the agency, she was presented with a videotape of Comas’ play as well as statistics and tournament records. She then began e-mail and telephone correspondence with both Comas and her mother.

Comas looked at other schools in the area but decided upon UMass. She has been happy with the fit so far.

“The experience has been really positive,” she said. “In Spain, it is difficult to play at a higher level and study at the same time, and here I can do it.”

Comas arrived in the United States two weeks prior to the start of the semester. It was her first time in America. She spent a week in New York before arriving at UMass.

In the days before classes started, Comas met her coaches and teammates for the first time. Her roommate, Chantal Swiszcz, also from Spain, is a fellow freshman on the team this year.

Comas said that playing tennis in America has few differences from the play in Spain.

“It is mostly the same,” she said. “In Spain, we play more on clay. But I like hard courts more, so it’s good for me.”

The biggest adjustment for Comas in America has been the necessity to speak English. Comas began learning English in school at 10. She had to take further English classes to prepare for the SAT. But she was still not entirely confident with it when she arrived in the U.S. at the start of the school year.

Comas appreciates being able to talk in Spanish with the assistant coach Juancarlos Nunez, who is from Venezuela. Both Nunez and Dixon look to improve certain aspects of Comas’ play during her time at UMass.

Dixon has been impressed with Comas’ shot selection and her “very natural awareness of the match.” She also noted Comas’ excellent serve.

“I hope to improve her volley and incorporate that into her play,” she said.

Dixon also hopes to work on Comas’ mobility, which can be a weakness because of her height. She also will continue to work on improving Comas’ play in doubles matches.

Comas has been playing tennis since she was six and for competitive teams for the last 10 years. But she does not have as much experience playing on a doubles team. So far this year, Comas has performed well in doubles matches, helped in part by her pairing with sophomore Ploch. Working with Ploch has helped Comas work on her doubles play, and she feels she has learned a lot from her teammate thus far.

Comas enjoys the fact that tennis, particularly on a professional level, is more popular in America than Spain. She would love to be able to play  after college, but is not yet sure if she will.

Chris Shores can be reached at cshores@dailycollegian.com.

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