TAMPA, Fla. – A fist pump, a high five and a smile.
Yes, that’s a pretty typical celebration routine, but Ecaterina Vasenina and Loreto Alonso Martinez’s relationship on the tennis court is far from typical.
The duo, although rooted in hard work, is loaded with laughter.
“People think we are crazy for how much fun we have” said Vasenina, stepping off the court with her partner after defeating Boston College 8-4 in the first (and their only) match of the day. “I call Katie ‘Giggles’,” Martinez added.
Although the girls keep things light, it should be known they work hard to earn those smiles.
“I push them really hard when it comes to cardio and they do a lot of auxiliary training. We go out to the football field and run…hard,” University of South Florida trainer Walter Bell said.
Bell’s rigorous workout regime has placed the pair in great stead.
“They are my top duo,” head coach Agustin Moreno said. “Loreto is quite vocal, which works because Katie is pretty soft spoken. That’s why they work so well together.”
The women are not only a team on the court, but off the court as well. “We are living together next year,” Martinez said as she looked over at her giggling partner.
Teammate Kate Parker, who will also live with the twosome next year, thinks Martinez and Vasenina are fantastic together.
“They have such a great dynamic,” Parker said. “Even though they’ve only played together since September, their communication is outstanding on the court.”
The communication happens in English, even though Vasenina and Martinez’s mother tongues are Russian and Spanish, respectively.
“Our English was awful when we first came here,” Martinez said. “Yeah, I still can’t understand her in the morning when she’s tired.” Vasenina laughed
Currently unranked, the pair would like to be in the top 40 (of 326 Division I teams) in the next few months.
“We are getting into a groove. Although we lost three, we just won two, so we are gaining momentum,” Vasenina said after her day wrapped up with a win in singles.
“Whenever I am playing bad, or she is, we are never mad,” Martinez said. “We know how to encourage each other when frustration kicks in.”
With their inaugural year as a pair off to such a fantastic start, this team has no reason to be frustrated.