Daily Egyptian

Saluki tennis player competes on international stage

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

Competing on an international stage is an honor in itself, but competing for one’s home country in one’s home country makes it even more special.

Junior tennis player Ana Sofia Cordero represented her native Puerto Rico in the Fed Cup World Championships from Feb. 1 to Feb. 6. Her team advanced to the semi-finals of the group stage before losing to Chile. The tournament was held in her home country for the first time since she began competing in it in 2011.

“Definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in my career,” Cordero said. “Representing your country in front of people you grew up is surreal and gives you such a rush.”

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Codero said playing at home added pressure, but it was pressure she was more than capable of handling.

“It’s definitely crazy to think you have 6,000 people from home yelling and cheering you on,” she said. “Being back home does sort of put your mind at ease, playing in familiar territory and in front of people who know you.”

She was 0-2 in singles competition, but 4-1 in doubles action while paired with Monica Puig, who is ranked 47th in the Women’s Tennis Association Rankings. Cordero said playing with Puig was a fun experience because she had the opportunity to play with a pro.

Cordero has competed in the tournament three times and compiled a 7-13 record. She said the experience of competing internationally was encouraging.

“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence knowing I can go on a bigger stage and compete,” she said. “I gained a whole new energy to come back and continue working hard to get ready for the spring season.”

Puerto Rico has a population of roughly 3.5 million people, which pales in comparison to the United States population of 318.9 million. 

Cordero said because of its size, the United States is more competitive in tennis than her native country.

“With a larger population, you have more people playing tennis which expands the level of competition,” she said.

Prior to SIU, Cordero attended North Texas University for her first two years where she was named to the academic honor roll and was 10-9 overall. In her first season as a Saluki, she went 7-2 in the fall season and is 9-5 overall.

The Salukis spring season began Jan. 15 with a 4-3 win over Western Kentucky. With the Fed Cup not starting until the first week of February and the next SIU match not being until the week after the tournament, Cordero did not miss any time for the Salukis.

“I wasn’t concerned at all she wasn’t at practice because I know she was competing at a high level against solid competition,” said coach Audra Anderson. “The challenge now is getting her up to speed to what we’re doing here and catching her up on her school work.”

Currently, SIU does not have any players who have played on an international stage before Cordero. 

Anderson said that having a player do so helped SIU during recruiting.

“It really helps us get our name out there to countries where it usually wouldn’t,” she said. “It’s a great honor for some of these smaller countries like Puerto Rico to be represented on the international stage and I’m glad she was able to have the experience.” 

The Salukis next match is against Ball State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Muncie, Ind.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303

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