Jazmin Britos Takes Scary Risk and Serves up an Ace
May 22, 2017
This past Saturday inside a jam-packed Thomas Assembly Center, Jazmin Britos became part of the 100,000 strong as she received her diploma from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in business administration.
Now flash back to five years ago.
Jazmin was a 17-year old tennis player in Villarrica, Paraguay and was undecided on her future plans. Then one day a Facebook message (Google translate required) from a college tennis coach in the United States opened up a whole new possibility.
"They found me on the ITF website where you can find players and their rankings," Jazmin recalled. "I did not have a video or anything online. I did not even know you could have the opportunity to come to the United States to study and play tennis. In Paraguay, you can't do both. I did not think about this opportunity until I got that message.
"I kept getting more messages. I did not think I could go because I could not speak English and I did not know if I was good enough to play. I had to at least try though."
Now that she knew she wanted to come to the US, the next order of business was deciding which university to go to.
One of those Facebook messages came from former Louisiana Tech head coach Freddy Gomez. He was from South America and could communicate in Spanish. The team also had two players from South America. That comfort led Jazmin to choose to be a Lady Techster.
Next up was the crucial part, learning how to say more than `hello' and `how are you' in English. She had eight months to make that happen.
"I knew I had only about eight months until I took the ACT," Jazmin said. "I went to this teacher to do private lessons with her. She helped me for three months, every day. After that, she got too busy and I still had about four months until I had to take it. Then I went to another teacher in town. He helped me for about three times a week."
The day finally came to make the long journey to Ruston.
Three-hour drive to Asuncion Two-hour flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil Layover 10-hour flight to Dallas, Texas Layover One-hour flight to Monroe, Louisiana
"Nobody was at the airport except for policemen," Jazmin remembered. "It was such a long day. Freddy arrived with Alexandra [Starkova] and Asia [Nalborska]. We arrived to Ruston and the first thing I see are these huge football and baseball stadiums. It was amazing. I was really scared, but excited at the time. I wanted to stay and was willing to take the risk."
Despite cramming in a second language prior to arrival, it was still tough sledding for Jazmin from a communication standpoint.
"My first day of school, I was running through the buildings trying to find my classes," Jazmin laughed. "My first quarter, I took history, reading and university seminar. Reading and university seminar were easy, but history was the worst. My teacher did not use books or power points. I had to take notes from whatever he was saying."
Overcoming the fear of the classroom was in progress.
Now there was shaking off the fear of being on the tennis court. She would have to do so without Freddy as her head coach since he left for another job prior to the start of the fall season.
"Whenever I am scared, my strokes are not good, especially my serve," Jazmin said. "I could not put the ball into the court at first. I didn't want the team to think I was not good enough to play tennis. I was really scared. My first college match I played terrible, but I won. I was playing terrible because I was so nervous."
By her second quarter, she became confident in her English which parlayed into academic success. With the assistance of a lot of coffee (at least one cup with sugar and milk every day) and the unwavering support of her teammates, she became the first one in her family to earn a college degree.
"I felt relieved," Jazmin said after taking her last final. "Last year, I was talking to the seniors and I told them that I did not feel like I was going to make it. I told them I did not believe in myself, but they believed in me and supported me a lot. It was an amazing moment. I felt really happy and proud of myself."
By the spring season her freshman year, she became more confident in her ground strokes as well. That year, she was named second team All-Conference USA while posting a team-best 14-3 dual singles record.
Under the guidance of head coaches Chad Camper and Amanda Stone, Jazmin finished her career as a four-time all-conference selection with exactly 150 combined singles wins. Fifty-one of those came in dual matches, the third most in program history.
The 150th win came in her final collegiate match, dominating her opponent in straight sets in the C-USA Tournament at the No. 1 position. She never lost a singles match in postseason play, going 3-0.
"I just wanted to do something important here at Tech," Jazmin said. "I am really happy with what I accomplished here. I wanted to leave my name somewhere here.
"Tennis gave me so much. I have so many great memories. The trip to Orlando was awesome. I had never been to Disney and never thought I would go in my wildest dreams. There was the trip my freshman year to play Florida Gulf Coast and Florida Atlantic and we got to go the beach. That was awesome too. Then there was the moment last year getting nationally ranked. That was unbelievable."
Five years ago, Jazmin was a 17-year old tennis player that could barely speak English and was not ready to give up on the game of tennis. Fast forward to now and she is a college graduate and one of the best tennis players in school history.
"These past four years have been the best of my life. I really enjoyed everything -- the environment, the country, the culture, the people. The experience here as a student-athlete was awesome. If I had to do it all over again I would and not think twice about it."
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