Alli Hodges Makes a Racket: UCO Tennis Heads for MIAA Conference Tournament

Alli Hodges Makes a Racket: UCO Tennis Heads for MIAA Conference Tournament

Allí Hodges, sophomore tennis player for the University of Central Oklahoma, returns the ball to the other side of the court during a match on Jan. 18, 2017 in Edmond, Okla. (Elizabeth Roberts/ The Vista).

With the end of the season now here and the postseason around the corner, UCO tennis star, sophomore Alli Hodges, looks to continue her impressive performance and lead her team into the conference and national tournaments.

Hodges is returning from a stellar freshman campaign, where she finished with a 20-7 record and is currently ranked 38th in the nation.

“Going in, I was nervous I wasn’t going to live up to my last season,” Hodges said. “You have to go into every match like it’s an even record.”

Hodges is 21-5  so far this year with the postseason remaining, which is already an improvement from her record during the 2016 season.

For the start of the 2017 season, the Lady Bronchos were scheduled to play two Division-I schools, a strategy to see tougher competition before the regular season started.

“It showed us that we can compete with anyone,” Hodges said. “We aren’t that far off from the bigger schools.”

Success in anything takes hard work. During the off season, Hodges continued to improve her game. Whether it was conditioning or skills, she was training.

During the summer it can be difficult to train, since most of the players go home for break – but Hodges isn’t most players.

“I really tried to work on my footwork and rhythm,” Hodges said. “It can be hard, but it’s been worth it.”

 

Hodges also got some help from first-year head coach Jaron Maestas. “He has helped bring us a lot of structure,” Hodges said. “He’s worked with me to come forward on the line instead of hanging back.”

Soaking up information and knowledge is something Hodges picked up from Maestas as she has learned what he has found to be effective over the years.

“We can relate to him and he can relate to us,” Hodges said. “He’s a great motivator.”

Hodges’ talent and ability on the court is undeniable, but she would be to the first one to point out what aspects of the game she could be better at.

While most of the game is played physically on the court, the mental aspect of the game is also important – and a lot harder to practice.

“I need to be more self-confident,” Hodges said. “Just because someone is ranked above me doesn’t mean they are better.”

The MIAA Conference Tournament begins April 18 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hodges and the Lady Bronchos tennis team look to compete and qualify for the National Tournament in May.

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