Athletes of the Week: Region tennis champions Escobar, Cebrian eye state titles

Athletes of the Week: Region tennis champions Escobar, Cebrian eye state tennis titles
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 10:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Service High School senior Ulysses Escobar and West Anchorage freshman Lana Cebrian have different paths to the same mountaintop.

The Service standout fell just short in the state tennis championship match last year, falling in the extra set for a second-place finish. However, he used the loss to improve his game and turn it into a Region IV singles championship win over the weekend, defeating the opponent that bested him at state a year ago.

“It’s a lot of fun obviously to play against all kinds of players, they’re very challenging matches, so it is good to be able to push yourself and that’s the fun of tennis,” Escobar said at the Region IV tournament. “There are so many things we worked on as a team, so I feel like I am definitely a better player.”

Moving from Saudi Arabia to Alaska four years ago, the familiarity of tennis courts helped make the state quickly feel like home for Escobar.

“I think the moment that we came to Anchorage at first — or Alaska in general — we didn’t know where all the tennis locations were, we didn’t know where the communities were, but then we realized there is a huge community of tennis, it’s very tight-knit, that’s for sure,” Escobar added. “Maybe the very first courts I think I played on were actually the Service courts. That is before I went to high school here so it ended up being the same high school.”

Escobar hopes to make it full circle this weekend by bringing home a trophy home to Service as the No. 1 seed heading into the state tennis tournament.

Meanwhile, West Anchorage freshman Cebrian played more like an experienced veteran in her first big high school tournament, not losing a single set en route to a Region IV Cook Inlet Conference singles tournament championship.

“At first I was scared, but I felt that if I just did my best and get these points in, I would at least have a chance,” Cebrian said.

Now, the youngest of the bunch is the number one target as the top seed heading into the state tournament.

”A bit [of] pressure, yeah,” Cebrian said. “I pump myself up, that’s the number one thing. When I get scared or nervous, I say, ‘It’s okay, let’s go, win it.’”

Both of their greatest strengths may be that they don’t have many weaknesses, with their talents on full display at this weekend’s State Tennis Tournament Oct. 5-7 at Alaska Club East in Anchorage.