ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – University of New Mexico women’s tennis head coach Erica Jasper has announced that Albuquerque native Gabrielle “Gabby” Otero will join the Lobos for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
“We are thrilled that Gabby Otero has decided to return home to Albuquerque to become a Lobo,” Jasper said. “Not only is Gabby a great tennis player with incredible potential and upside, she also is a tremendous person and will be an excellent fit on our team.”
Otero is already familiar with the Division I tennis environment as she spent the 2013-14 season playing at Louisiana State. Competing primarily in the number three and number four positions, she finished the season with an overall singles record of 13-17 and a doubles record of 14-12. Otero completed her first and only year at LSU with a four match win streak in singles, including a win in the NCAA tournament. Otero also showcased her doubles skills last season, claiming a 9-9 regular season record. Otero and former LSU teammate Abigail Owens held a career-high six match win streak and claimed SEC wins over opponents from Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Mississippi State.
Before heading to LSU, Otero had a successful high school career at La Cueva here in Albuquerque as she claimed the New Mexico 5A State Singles Championship in 2010, earned a five-star ranking on Tennisrecruiting.net, and was rated as high as 39th in the U.S. for the class of 2013.
“I feel blessed to have the chance to be able to play for UNM, my hometown college,” Otero said. “It will be awesome to play tennis for the town that I grew up in my entire life. I’m looking forward to being home with my friends and family, and most of all still being able to be apart of my local church as it means a lot to me to stay grounded in Jesus.”
Otero is not the first member of her family to play tennis for the Lobos. Her father, Steve Otero, played tennis for UNM from 1983-1985 where he was an All-Conference selection and was selected to the NCAA Championships in 1983. She is also cousin to former Lobo soccer star Devon Sandoval who currently plays in the MLS for Real Salt Lake.
“We are also very excited to welcome her parents Steve and Barbara to the Lobo family—Steve was a great player for the Lobos and has done an excellent job coaching Gabby during her junior career,” Jasper said. “Gabby had a great finish to her season last year at LSU, finishing the season on a four match win streak including a win at the NCAA Team Tournament—we cannot wait to work with her and help her continue to build upon that success.”
Otero will begin her sophomore year at UNM in the fall where she plans on studying nutrition.
Get To Know Otero and Her Family
Q&A with Gabrielle Otero:
What motivated your decision to join the UNM tennis program?
“What motivated me to join the tennis program was knowing that I could play tennis for my hometown, be home with my friends and family, and most of all still be able to be apart of my local church as it means a lot to me to stay grounded in Jesus.”
What are you looking forward to most about becoming a Lobo?
“I’m really looking forward to just starting to play some tennis and get more fit. I’m also really looking forward to playing where my father played tennis awhile back and also play where my cousin Devon Sandoval played soccer two years ago. It will be awesome to be playing tennis for the town that I grew up in my entire life.“
What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to play tennis in your hometown?
“I just feel blessed to have the chance to be able to play for UNM, my hometown college. It will be awesome to play tennis for the town that I grew up in my whole life. Jesus gave me a gift to play tennis. I’m also really looking forward to meeting a lot of new people.”
Q&A with Steve and Barbara Otero:
What does it mean to you to have your daughter be able to play at UNM?
Barbara Otero: “Back in the 80’s when Gabby’s dad played, the Lobos got tons of support from the community and I am hoping that Gabby can make a difference on her team and also get more support from the community since she will be a Lobo. I am hoping that my friends and family will come out and support the Lobos this year. Of course it is awesome to have another Lobo in the family and now that she is playing at home we get to watch her all the time. I’m very excited to be supporting Gabby and her teammates. Everyones a Lobo, Woof Woof Woof!”
Steve Otero: “I am excited to watch Gabby play as a Lobo here at home. Hopefully with hardwork, we can win the Mountain West Championship this year and years to come. I’m excited to work with Erica and Kelcy this year, they have a lot of knowledge about the game and I know that will make her a better player. I would like to see the Lobos become nationally ranked. I think in time the girls will and this will be very exciting to see. I have a lot of good memories playing tennis here at UNM, and it will be great to watch my daughter follow in my footsteps by playing at the same school that I went to. With God on our side we can do anything.”