Stevens: Lobos Expect China Experience To Mold Better Lobos
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/06/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 6, 2011


What: UNM Lobos Balloon Fiesta Tournament
When: Friday (9 a.m. start) thru Sunday
Teams: New Mexico, Northern Arizona, New Mexico State, Arizona State, Air Force, Western New Mexico, Colorado State-Pueblo, New Mexico Military Institute
Lobo players: Evan Corona-Saunders, Mads Hegelund, Simon Hegelund, James Hignett, Carl Ho, Samir Iftikhar, Mitch McDaniels, Matthew Neeld, Ian Supple.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

When it comes to jetting a couple of his Lobos to the exotic ports on the Mountain West Conference tennis tour, Coach Alan Dils probably won't be hearing any complaints about jet lag or long flights from seniors Carl Ho or Phil Anderson.

Hey, what's a trip to San Diego, Las Vegas, Denver or Tulsa, Okla., after 20-plus hours of traveling to Shenzhen, China - and back again.

Anderson has it easy this week. He is on a short jump to Tulsa to team up with Jadon Phillips for doubles' play in the ITA All-American. Heck, Anderson probably made the trip with a toothbrush and an extra pair of shorts.

Ho has it easier. He gets to stay in Albuquerque for the UNM Balloon Fiesta Tournament to be held at the Linda Estes Tennis Complex this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Ho won't even have to go through customs to get his tennis gear into the complex.

Ho might miss not having to stop for a photograph and autograph session.

The two Lobos played for Team Canada in the 2011 World University Games held in Shenzhen, China from Aug. 12 to 23. "It surprised me to be put on such a pedestal over there," said Ho. "It was a big deal over there. We got rock-star treatment."

Said Anderson: "We were swarmed wherever we went. People were asking for pictures, autographs. Probably the biggest thing I took from the experience was how we were embraced by the people. We had superstar status."

OK, all that adulation is good stuff. But what Dils is hoping Anderson and Ho take to the courts with as Lobos is improved tennis. Anderson and Ho said that also should be a byproduct of their participation in the World Games.

First, the two Lobos worked their tails off throughout the summer in order to prepare for the intense competition at the Games. Second, the competition at the Games was intense.

"We went into a tournament that is extremely prestigious around the world and we knew we had to work hard to perform at that level," said Anderson. "My partner (not Ho) and I lost in doubles in the quarterfinals. But we beat the second seeds in the second round.

"That was a great win for us, but the semis guaranteed you a medal and we were two points away from the semis. We played well, but to come up short leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth."

Ho did not play doubles, but went into the singles' bracket. He said he might have made a mistake by going and watching some of the pro talent playing in the Games.

"I opened with an off day and went to watch some matches and I might have been a bit overwhelmed by some of the players I watched play," said Ho. "I was looking at some of the top players in the world.

"I think I was overwhelmed at first and tried to do too much in my first match. I found my groove in the consolation match and made it to the semifinals. But it was a confidence builder to see I could play with those guys."

Anderson's and Ho's trip back from Shenzhen was another long one. Ho flew from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Anderson went from Hong Kong to Tokyo to Los Angeles. "I left for the airport in Hong Kong at bout 4:30 a.m. and got to L.A. around 11 in the morning," said Anderson. "A clock became irrelevant."

One thing that is very relevant is the tennis Ho and Anderson bring back to UNM. They say the University Games experience will make them better Lobos. That's what Dils is hoping, too.

"We played (top-ranked) players from around the world," said Anderson. "We found out we could play with those guys.

"The experience helps you realize how lucky you are to live in America or Canada, but the experience also is going to help us as tennis players."