Tennis player brings enthusiasm to the team
Eight strong, vibrant young women from five different countries make up the UMKC women’s tennis team.
Gaby Pintos from Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico has been on the team for two and a half years.
Pintos started her tennis career at age 12 and swiftly moved up the ranks until she played in national matches.
“I played in the College Prospects Tournament where [the head UMKC] coach saw me,” she said.
After her success in the College Prospects Tournament, Head Coach Kendell Hale did not hesitate to recruit her for UMKC.
Although Pintos loves tennis and is skilled at the sport, she intends to pursue her chosen career path of urban planning after graduation.
“I obviously love tennis, but I don’t plan on doing it professionally because I am very passionate about my major,” she said.
Distance hasn’t been a problem for Pintos.
“I go back home for every break so I’m never homesick,” she said.
During the tennis team’s regular season, Pintos travels almost every weekend and admits it is tiring.
“I talk to my parents two or three times a week and they always encourage me to do my best every day,”she said, “and they always make me feel better.”
Pintos said being a member of The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) has given her the opportunity to develop a sense of belonging at UMKC and in Kansas City.
“When I moved here, ALAS helped me make new friends and I felt closer to my culture,” she said.
Though English is her second language, Pintos said it has not been an issue.
“Fortunately I have always been in private schools where they taught me English, so when I first came here I really didn’t struggle,” she said. “Being a student-athlete has its challenges but if you go to class and pay attention everything will be fine.”
The women’s tennis team has remained competitive. Last year, the team advanced to the Summit League semifinals, and two seasons ago, it advanced all the way to the finals.
“Obviously the goal is to win in everything,” she said. “We are not just teammates, but also friends who trust each other and have a positive mentality.”
Pintos is a junior, but she is still unsure about her plans after graduation.
“Anything can happen. I don’t know if I will go back to Mexico or stay here, it depends on the job opportunities I get,” she said.