By Chase Schimel
For NM State Media Relations
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Sept. 30, 2013) - New Mexico native Gabrielle Joyce shows a lot of promise as a college athlete after playing in her first tennis tournament for the Aggie women’s tennis team earlier this September.
Joyce, a freshman at NM State, is from Roswell, N.M. where she played three years of tennis for the Goddard Rockets before moving to New Braunfels, Texas for her senior year. In 2010, Joyce and her partner, Halie Harton, claimed the New Mexico 4A state title in doubles play and finished third as sophomores in 2011 playing at the No. 1 spot.
During her time at Goddard, it is worth noting that she was also a zealous volleyball player and as a freshman helped her team to a 23-1 record and a state title. Her tennis doubles partner, Halie Harton was also on that team and is now playing for the West Texas A&M volleyball team.
After early success in the two sports, Joyce was at a crossroad in her athletic career. Her personal tennis coach and brother, Mitch Joyce, with foresight on the future, decided it was important for his sister to choose between volleyball and tennis. She weighed her options and decided that it was in her best interest to pursue tennis.
“My brother told me it was important to choose between tennis and volleyball my sophomore year,” Joyce said. “If I pursued volleyball, then he was going to move to Texas. He is my coach and a huge part of my life so I chose Tennis.”
Playing high school tennis one year and then Division I the next is a massive leap in level of play, even for a former state champion. Rosters across the NCAA are filled with foreign talent from around the world and Americans are actually a minority- especially at the Division I level. Joyce is amongst a high amount of three American players on this year’s NM State roster.
“For whatever reason, Americans don’t match up to foreign players due to level of competitive play abroad as opposed to here in the states,” Aggie women’s tennis head coach Ivan Hernandez said. “It is nice to have somebody that is actually good from New Mexico. It doesn’t do us any good to have players from here in New Mexico that can’t keep up with the other girls out here.”
Joyce had the opportunity to play at a number of Division II schools, but her competitive spirit compelled her to come to NM State for the higher level of competition. “I would rather play on a Division I team than play for a lower level school,” she said.
Standing at an impressive 5’11”, Joyce has the frame to be a worthy adversary on the tennis court.
“She’s a good all-around player, obviously with her size, her serve is huge. It would be considered one of her specialties. With her size and her strength, her serves and forehand are pretty big,” said Fernandez.
Her drive only adds to her physical capabilities on the court. “She is constantly here early for practice and always one of the last ones to leave.” Fernandez said. She is willing to do anything she can to keep improving and give herself the best opportunity to stay in the top eight on this team.”
Off of the court, Joyce is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She also fills her free time with her passion for art, as she enjoys drawing as well as photography. Hobbies all aside, she is a fully focused kinesiology major and dedicated athlete.
After getting her first taste of Division I play at the Aggie Invitational a couple weeks ago, Joyce managed to pick up her first win in doubles play and defaulted on a couple other matches. Joyce took the experience and was optimistic for her future with the team.
“You realize the competition is what it is. You see the level of play at the other schools and you also realize what you need to work on and it obviously shows you what level you need to get up to,” Joyce said of the experience. “I’m a freshmen and it was my first home tournament. It was an awakening. I just have to stay positive and work hard.”
Joyce and the Aggies continue fall play with the ITA Regional tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Oct. 9-13.