Life is a compilation of moments.
In one moment, life gives and grants the good and in the next, it can be taken away. Yolena Carlon and her tennis team found that out as they went from an undefeated start to competing for fifth place and finishing sixth.
Carlon, a senior at Desert Vista, and her team, the Southwest Coyotes, competed in the World Team Tennis Junior Nationals in San Diego from July 29-31.
“We had really good momentum on Day One, and carried it to the second day,” she said. “(The team from) Colorado and Nevada played a more aggressive style than us. On Day Three against the Indianapolis team, we just didn’t come out strong like we did in the beginning.
“But we were still really supportive of each other the whole way, always up cheering and trying to help each other on. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, you just can’t win them all.”
Carlon said the tournament provided her with new experiences, like competing in mixed doubles for the first time.
“It was a lot more fun playing mixed doubles because I had to be awake and on my toes because the guys hit it harder and faster. It was a really great experience, and even in my singles matches, I felt like I was part of a team,” she said.
“It felt like a privilege to be a part of that tournament because I was given a chance to show everyone else what I can do, and I got to make some close friends, too.”
Carlon was joined on the team by Hussein Elalami of Gilbert; Cole Stofflet of Scottsdale; Chloe Weihs of Peoria; David Akin of Phoenix and Lindsay Harlas of Las Cruces, N.M.
When it comes to tournaments, Carlon, an honors student, is still fairly green. She said this is only her second year competing in them.
“It’s interesting the way I started playing,” Carlon said, “My grandma started playing in an over-40 league, and got me hooked. My dad got me a coach and I started practicing.”
Carlon played for Desert Vista in the spring, where she and her doubles partner, Tori Kammerzel, made it to the quarterfinals in the state tournament.
“Being a senior this year, I want to make the No. 1 spot on the team and get as far as possible in state. But, because it’s my last high school season, I want to make this the best season and have as much fun as I can,” Carlon said.
Angel Singer, Carlon’s coach at Desert Vista, said Carlon has shown such vast improvement throughout her four years because of her dedication to the sport and the team.
“She started as a freshman deciding between tennis and track and earned a spot on J.V.,” Singer said. “Her sophomore year, she worked her way to the No. 2 player on varsity. Then last year, she and Tori Kammerzel were ranked No. 2 in the state.
“(Carlon’s) favorite saying is, ‘I’m not there to make friends, I’m there to win’ and that aggressive style of play is started to sink in with the team. I’m really positive for her senior year.”
Carlon said she wants to go to school in California when she graduates to study kinesiology — the study of human movement.
“I want to go into the medical field, but I’m not done with tennis, so a D-II or D-III school would be good because I think I’ll get a good balance of athletics and academics that way,” said Carlon.
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.