Tennis travels to Mexico to begin season

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Special to the Star

This year, the Texas State tennis team was introduced to a book called “Read This Book Tonight To Help You Win Tomorrow.”

Katy Collins, one of three returning players, read the book whenever she struggled during any of her matches.

In preparation for this season, Collins’ father has provided each player with her own copy of the book as the team begins the season Thursday in Cancun, Mexico for the Barcelo College Cup II.

“It has a lot of quotes and motivating advice and I read it before all of my competitions,” Collins said. “It worked really well with me, so we like to recommend it to everyone else.”

Collins reads the book before every match. Head Coach Tory Plunkett, who focuses on mental toughness, had high praise for the book.

“It is a book that helps us to get our mind in the right frame for competition,” Plunkett said. “The book was introduced to them because we are going to be starting competition. It’s basically walking the walk and talking the talk. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for tennis, softball, soccer, volleyball—it is the mental part of the game.”

Improving the mental side will come in handy with an inexperienced team. Four of the seven players on the team are freshmen.

With only two weeks of practice, Plunkett is confident her team will be competitive despite the inexperience.

“I’m excited, they have to learn quite a bit within a short two weeks,” Plunkett said. “There is still a lot to learn, but I think everybody is going to kind of be in that boat—us more than other teams just because majority of our team consists of freshmen.”

The three returning players—Collins, Eva Dench and Pippa Carr—finished with a 9-7 record last season and advanced to the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

This trio gives mental toughness and it’s rubbing off on the rest of the team.

Collins is ready to pick up from where she left off last season. Losing is not on her agenda.

"Every time, no matter how I'm feeling, when I step on the court I just immediately get into the mode where I hate losing,” Collins said.

That competiveness has grown over the three years Collins has spent under Plunkett’s coaching.

Plunkett has noticed an overall change in her team compared to last year. The freshmen on the team want to be No. 1 and they are not afraid of the spotlight.

But being the top player requires extra responsibility, both on and off the court.

“I expect a lot from that No. 1,” Plunkett said. “Not necessarily success, but the mentality you have on the court, the attitude. That person has to represent our team in a highly professional manner.”

As of right now, Plunkett said the top spot is between Carr and freshman Yadira Rubio. And it is a close race.

“I have freshmen asking and wanting to play in those top positions,” Plunkett said. “They are going to add quite a bit of depth and success to our team.”

Follow Thomas Mejia on Twitter at @ThomasMejia79.