Bronchos Find Their Ace
Freshman Laetitia Charbonnet hits the ball during a match against Southern Nazarene University on February 2 at the Broncho Courts. (Lauren Bieri/ UCO Photo Services)
After watching his freshman battle to the final four in the 64 player ITA Regional tournament this fall, UCO Head Tennis Coach Jaron Maestas went and told Laetitia Charbonnet that she could potentially become a nationally ranked player.
At the time, Charbonnet was 6-3 on the season. Now after her last regular season match on Saturday, she has a record of 22-5 and is not only ranked 24th in the country in singles, but also ranked 27th in the country in doubles with her partner Kirtana Bhat.
“I didn’t really believe him at the beginning because I had no idea how it worked,” Charbonnet said. “But now I feel happy to be ranked.”
In Charbonnet’s first season with the Bronchos, she has shown how dominant she can be. She has placed herself as one of the top players on the team as she has the most wins; a combined 37 between singles and doubles this season. She is 8-1 in the Mid-America Intercollgiate Athletics Association and was selected as the MIAA Tennis Player of the Week for the first week of March, an accomplishment rarely achieved by international freshman players.
— UCO Women’s Tennis (@TennisUco) March 6, 2018
Charbonnet was born in Beuron, Switerland and during her childhood, she played many sports, including soccer and skiing. She first played tennis at eight-years-old. After playing recreationally for a year, Charbonnet said she began to pursue tennis as her dominate sport because she had come to appreciate it.
“As can be assumed, tennis is not as big as soccer is in Switzerland, but it is still pretty common,” Charbonnet said. “I didn’t play as often as the other kids with the same age as me because I was doing ski at the same time. But then, I chose to stop doing ski in order to take tennis more seriously.”
As the years went on, Charbonnet improved her game, taking inspiration from Switzerland natives Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinsky. From there, Charbonnet began playing for her high school, Lycee College des Creusets in Sion, Switzerland.
“I played three to four times a week before coming to the USA,” Charbonnet said. “Which is not a lot compared to what I am doing now at UCO.”
Charbonnet said her decision to come to the United States and play for UCO was not difficult because of coach Maestas.
“When I had to choose a university, I had no idea of what Division II really meant nor if the UCO team was good or not,” Charbonnet said. “I tried to look at some results, but I could not tell if the teams UCO played during the season were decent or no. I feel like I chose UCO because of [Coach] Jaron [Maestas]. When I spoke with Jaron I had a really good feeling. He knew how to talk to me and moreover how to convince me that UCO would be the perfect university for me.”
— UCO Bronchos (@ucoathletics) April 14, 2018
Along with her individual success, the Bronchos tennis team is ranked eighth nationally and is on a five-match win streak. The Bronchos finished their last regular season match Saturday, beating the Angelo State Rams 5-0 at the Oak Tree Tennis Center, improving their record to 16-2 on the season.
With an 8-1 record in the MIAA conference, the Bronchos will go into the conference tournament ranked second behind undefeated Northeastern State RiverHawks.