Isabel Heras has committed to play for Dixie State University on an athletic scholarship, joining the growing list of CNMI junior tennis players who have earned a chance to see action in collegiate leagues.
Heras signed her national letter of intent yesterday and will be suiting up for her new team this fall.
“This signing has definitely helped me realize that hard work pays off in the long run,” said the Marianas High School senior.
“Playing college tennis has always been a goal for me. I’m so happy and proud of myself for being able to have this big accomplishment. The key to success is the everyday effort of pushing yourself to become a better athlete. With this, I realized that every decision you make and the amount of effort you put in determine your success,” she added.
The Commonwealth players, who represented the islands in various regional and international competitions, is thankful to her coaches, teammates, and supporters for helping her make it to the collegiate ranks.
“I want to thank all my tennis coaches, parents, friends, and Mr. Amrit Rai (recruitment agency) who helped me achieved this great accomplishment. I can say that I’m definitely blessed and thankful for this phenomenal opportunity. I can’t wait to excel in my sport, while gaining a degree in the exercise science program. I’m excited for what the future has in store for me,” the 17-year-old player said.
Heras will be playing for Dixie State University, which is located in St. George, Utah and a member of the Pacific West Conference in NCAA Division II along with 13 other schools in California, Hawaii, and Utah. The Trailblazers are coached by Eric Pelton, who has been with the program since women’s tennis was added into Dixie State athletics in the 2006-2007 season. Currently, Dixie State holds a 9-8 record and started this month’s campaign on a three-game winning streak before losing to Metro State-Denver last April 8.
Heras, in the last five years, was the third female player from the CNMI to receive an athletic scholarship. Thea Minor was admitted to the New Mexico Military Institute in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I in 2014 before moving up to NCAA Division II with the Henderson State University in 2016. Then last year, it was Mikayla Lopez’s turn to play for NMMI. Other notable players who honed their tennis skills here and moved up to collegiate ranks were Ji Hoon Heo, Colin Sinclair, Chris Cajigan, Amami Sakano, and Kana Aikawa.