By: Haley Hunt, Tenacity Intern and Special Correspondent

With both the Staniar Open and the Crane Cup tournaments around the corner, many schools are faced with a difficult decision: choosing which players to enter into the events. The Mario Umana Academy has several players vying to represent their school at these tournaments. These players have reached various milestones throughout the season. However, the biggest one, earning entry to these prestigious events, still looms.

6th grade students Luis Ortiz and Elijah Canales are leading prospects to represent the Umana at the Staniar Open. Both participated as doubles players in last winter’s Rising Stars tournament, which the Umana won.

“I hope my skills and good season can help me go to the Open,” Luis said. His favorite part of the season thus far was winning the #1 doubles draw at the Rising Stars with teammate Diego Acuna. Through Tenacity, he has enjoyed being able to spend more time with his friends outside of the classroom, and has seen his relationships with them strengthened as a result. Monthly field trips to venues like the movies, museums, and tennis tournaments have provided numerous opportunities for bonding.

Meanwhile, Elijah has been busy earning points off of the coaches in his favorite game: “Beat the Pro.” Though his favorite shot is his topspin forehand, he is experimenting with a new shot: the slice. He hopes to perfect this “new secret weapon” in time for the tournament, as it will allow him to add a new layer of deception to his match strategy.

Both Luis’ and Elijah’s leadership skills and their unflagging efforts have propelled Umana to great heights this season. Qualification for the Staniar Open would be a fitting close to what has been a breakout season for these young players.