Family tradition: Ybarra motivated to recover the state title | Sports

SAN ANTONIO – Palestine Ladycat Monique Ybarra grew up with a tennis racket in her hand. Now his prowess on the court has earned him a third trip to the UIL tennis tournament.

By the time she was old enough to hold a racket, her father Tony Ybarra had Monique, her sister and her two brothers living mostly on the tennis courts.

“My dad said the moment he saw the eye contact I made with the ball he knew I was ready to learn,” said Monique. “I’ve been working on my game since I was three. He was there every day with us to make sure we were training.

Monique will take the limelight on her for more reasons than her first straight spots in girls’ singles at district and regional tournaments. This will mainly be because of the weight the name Ybarra carries in the tennis community.

His father, Tony, was once ranked fourth best player in all of Texas. His older brother, Ryan, was a three-time state champion at Tyler All-Saints Episcopal and eventually played at the college level. His older brother Stefan won a state doubles crown.

Older sister Stevie Ybarra, who finished third in the state in her second year of PHS, has been qualified three times by the state and now an assistant tennis coach with Palestine.

Stevie and Monique missed the opportunity to play together in high school due to the four-year age gap. While the dynamics of the way they run together on the court have changed, it’s still been a year to cherish for both of them.

“I am so grateful to share these memories with Monique,” ​​Stevie said. “I was just here in his place a few years ago to say. It would mean the world to me to see her become state champion. “

Monique was third on her previous two trips to the United States. Last year, her ability to return to the state was taken away due to COVID in a season where she felt a state title was imminent.

So she hasn’t denied that there is pressure to offer a state championship in her final year with Palestine. However, her preparation prepared her for these great stage moments.

“My dad always told me the state should be the easiest tournament you play year round,” said Monique. “I grew up traveling to tournaments every month. The level of competition is much higher there than in high school. Girls in the state may not have the chance to play outside of high school. So that’s the advantage I have.

Monique intends to take one game at a time and bring home a state medal. Staying mentally strong can be one of the most difficult tasks competitors will face given the intensity of the moment.

Earlier this year, Monique got a better understanding of how taxing it can be physically and mentally. She went to fight with a 6A school in an out of district match that lasted three hours. She lost the first set 7-5, won the second set 7-5 and ultimately lost in the tiebreaker.

This opportunity, along with the training of Stevie and her former college teammates, as well as Stefan, has given her all the practice she needs to be successful at the state.

“I have a lot of people in my corner,” said Monique. “I have to keep a strong mentality. I know the game I’m playing and I know I’m good at it.

The 2021 UIL 4A State Tennis Tournament takes place Thursday and Friday at the Annemarie Tennis Center in San Antonio.

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