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Relays Edition

Playing to win, one point at a time

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Photo: Taylor Soule

Every day,  Jessica Aguilera clicks on her hometown online newspaper based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia seeking news both on and beyond the tennis courts.

On Oct. 9, 2011, Aguilera created tennis news of her own, winning the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Individuals title in the No. 4 bracket.

The 2012 State Farm MVC Championship is just days away, and the senior is eager to make headlines again.

With newsworthy tennis in mind, Aguilera embodies poise, consistency and composure on the court.

“I’m just calm,” Aguilera said.

Along with the Drake women’s tennis team, Aguilera’s Babolat Pure Drive racket appreciates her patient play.

“Tennis isn’t like a team sport, but we play as a team,” Aguilera said. “When I’m playing, for example, I will never throw my racket or anything, and I think that’s an example for the freshmen to just be calm.”

Balancing a double major, professional plans and tennis, Aguilera’s busy schedule demands determination.

“I think being a student-athlete is really nice,” Aguilera said. “You double up your time management. You are always busy.”

Aguilera’s busy college career will commence in May when she receives her bachelor’s degrees in marketing and management. After graduation, the senior will pursue employment in the U.S.

Before moving her 2012 tassel, though, Aguilera looks to finish her Bulldog career with another MVC title.

“We have conference soon, so we’re expecting to do better this year,” Aguilera said.

The MVC Championship opens on Friday, and Aguilera’s progress is promising, said Drake head coach Paul Thomson.

“She and I have been working a lot together on her confidence and her focus as far as being, I guess, a little more assertive, sometimes on the courts,” Thomson said. “She’s very talented. She can play with anybody on our schedule that she’s going to go up against.”

Aguilera owns a 18-7 singles record in the 2011-12 campaign. Paired with sophomore Klavdija Rebol, Aguilera has notched 10 wins en route to an 14-8 doubles ledger this season.

“She’s won a lot of matches,” Thomson said. “It’s just, she doesn’t realize she’s capable of doing some of the things she actually can.”

Aguilera’s forehand isn’t the strongest. Her serve isn’t the speediest. Her cheer isn’t the loudest.

Her dependable play is dangerous, though.

“She makes balls and makes balls and makes balls and makes balls,” Thomson said. “She doesn’t have a lot of overpowering weapons to finish a lot of balls, and put a lot of balls away and hit a lot of winners, but her weapon is the fact that she’s so consistent.”

While Aguilera’s game is no surprise, her consistency is awe-worthy, Thomson said.

Aguilera’s relentless play offers a powerful example for Drake’s young players like freshman Amanda Dick.

“She does always go out there and (does) her best and (tries) her hardest, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her give up,” Dick said. “I’ve been out there sitting next to her on the court, and she’s pretty quiet. I say, ‘Oh, that’s how I kind of want to be on the court.’”

Dick routinely practices with Aguilera, and she appreciates the senior’s supportive attitude.

“At practice, she always does what she has to do,” Dick said. “She’s fun to talk to, and she cheers her teammates on, and she’s there for us.”

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