by Josele Diaz
For NM State Media Relations
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Feb. 24, 2011) - - Growing up in the streets of Venezuela, Orlando Superlano, 22, and Luifer Ramirez, 19, might have never given thought to playing tennis in the United States. But, that all changed when the New Mexico State men's tennis coach, Carlos Vargas, offered them a scholarship to come and play for the Aggies.
Superlano and Ramirez are both from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and played club tennis during the time they lived there. "Venezuela is a great country to play tennis in because it is always warm there," Superlano said. "You can pick almost any day of the week and be wearing a t-shirt and sandals. When Coach Vargas was describing Las Cruces, it sounded a lot like Venezuela. I didn't think I was going to have to wear sweatpants or a sweatshirt at all." The past cold spell that the Mesilla Valley experienced was quite the culture shock for the two international students.
"I love the city of Las Cruces because it's warm during the beginning of school, although recently it has been really cold and it is not what I'm used to," Ramirez said. "Other than this cold, I think Las Cruces might be one of the greatest cities that I've ever been in."
The doubles partners didn't come to NM State for the beautiful weather though. Superlano explained that there is no such thing as collegiate tennis in their home country. There are only club teams and once somebody enters a university, most of their time is committed to their studies, therefore leaving very little time for tennis.
Superlano has been playing tennis ever since he was four-years-old and mentioned that his dad was his inspiration and ignited his love for the sport. It is incredibly difficult to come from a comfort zone and then move to a completely foreign country. The love of sports can sometimes make people do things that they will normally never do.
"Caracas, is a really huge city and Las Cruces is not very big at all," Superlano said. "Caracas has close to four million people and Las Cruces doesn't even have 100,000 people. It is a huge difference compared to the hustle and bustle of Caracas and the size of the city."
Ramirez and Superlano both said that coming here was an easy decision to make. Being that coach Vargas is from Venezuela, Ramirez and Superlano trusted him. "Once we were offered a scholarship, we didn't hesitate coming here," Ramirez said. The thought of coming to America and being able to play tennis competitively and getting a higher education at the same time was something we could not turn down."
Superlano and Ramirez both enjoy New Mexico State and everything that living alone entails. "I have been paying bills and have been more responsible in my life which I think is making me grow up in a lot of ways," Superlano said. "Normally I wouldn't wake up, but now I have to wake up on my own which is may be the hardest thing I have to do everyday."
NM State is a great place to compete in athletics as well as get a quality education at the same time. One reason the two of them decided to come to NM State was exactly that. Superlano and Ramirez are glad to be getting their education at NM State. They both mentioned that this is a great place to get a job after their playing career is over here at NM State.
"I plan to try and play tennis after New Mexico State. I want to try to play on the Davis Cup so that I can try out on the pro circuit," Ramirez said. "If that doesn't work out though, maybe I can get a job related to tennis. I wouldn't mind being a coach like coach Vargas, getting money to coach tennis seems like the best job in the world to me."
Superlano would like to try and educate kids while still in their young age. He believes that showing kids the proper way to play tennis and showing them the proper way to condition themselves for the grueling sport that is tennis is the best thing he can do with his knowledge of tennis.
"I think that most people don't know how hard tennis is. It may be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, sport out there," Superlano said. "I'm not too sure if I want to keep playing out in the professional world, but I am going to prepare my mind and body like if I am going to keep playing for the rest of my life."
Though the duo's future is still a little bit uncertain, one sure thing is that they will both try and play the best tennis they possibly can. "We think we have a really competitive team that can beat any other team in the nation and when we get everyone on the same page we can do great things. Our goal is to win the conference and make it to the big dance," Ramirez said for the two Venezuelan stars. "We have some high expectations this year and I think we can all do great things when we put our minds to it," Superlano said.
The Aggie tennis team takes on Sacramento State and the University of Arizona in a tournament hosted by the University of Arizona in Tucson, March 6.