Freshman Ana Yrazusta Acosta has emerged as a star for UMass women’s tennis

By Victor Pusateri

The Massachusetts women’s tennis team is off to a solid start to the season, having won many singles and doubles matches, with its most recent win coming against Connecticut in a non-conference matchup that the Minutemen won 5-2.

Although UMass has had great play across the board, much of its early season success can be accredited to freshman Ana Yrazusta Acosta.

At this point of the season Yrazusta has accounted for numerous single and double victories, including an 8-7 (4) doubles victory with Benito that sparked a rally against the Huskies.

Yrazusta came along way from home to play tennis at the collegiate level for the Minutewomen leaving her hometown of Las Palmas, Spain, where she has lived her entire life.

“Massachusetts (has) been difficult, I’m really home sick, I miss my family.” Yrazusta said when asked about how she’s adapting to a new lifestyle. “But the team has been so supportive of me and because we have international players, they have helped me a lot.”

Making the decision to continue to play tennis in college was no easy one for Yrazusta. There are no college tennis teams in Spain so she had to make the tough decision of staying home and no longer playing tennis or travel to a new country, away from her family and friends to continue to do something she loves. She decided to do something that not many have the courage to do and UMass is very fortunate she did.

Coming into the season neither Ana herself, nor head coach Judy Dixon expected much out of the freshman’s first season. When asked if her early success was surprising Ana replied, “Yeah. I’m pretty surprised … I didn’t expect to do that well so I’m very happy and I’m going to try to keep doing it.”

Although Dixon believed in her ability, she didn’t know what to expect from her first season. “Coming in, Ana was under the radar. I didn’t know how she was going to perform… I’m very happy with how she’s done thus far.”

There is still plenty of room for improvement in Yrazustra’s game, however, as Dixon believes the talented freshmen still has work to do.
“In practice we’ve been working on her double’s positioning and the placement of the ball, so that she just doesn’t hit it as hard as she can every time”

“I just don’t want her in big pressure situations to be too intense that it affects her game.”

But Yrazusta says she needs to play with that intensity and energy because it’s how she copes with her nerves. “Basically I’m really loud on the court because I’m really nervous so I try to be loud to forget I’m nervous. … I need to be intense to play well because when I’m quiet I do not.”

Dixon has very high expectations for Yrazusta for this season and beyond. She believes Ana should be one of the top rookies in her conference. “I really like how Ana plays with such intensity and energy on the court, she’s the vocal leader for the team even though she’s just a freshman, said Dixon.”

Coach Dixon’s praise doesn’t end there though, as she expects big things from the freshmen moving forward. “Ana has the potential to be one of the best players the school will ever have.”

The next time Ana Yrazusta and the rest of the Minutewomen will be in action is on Friday when UMass participates in the ITA Northeast Regionals.

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @VictorPusateri.