‘Las Chicas’ outsmart boys in tennis tourney

Tayvia Voytilla returns a shot during her match Saturday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

When they hit harder, you’ve got to play smarter.

That’s the motto 17-year-old Amy Espinoza and her all-girls team follow when playing against boys in the Djokovic Division at the Community Hospital Team Tennis Tournament.

Espinoza, Tayvia Voytilla, Charis Nordstrom and Isabel Manzanares are the four members of Las Chicas de Fuego, the only all-girls team in the three-day tournament, which has 13 girls and 39 boys combining to form 13 four-player teams.

The teams play in three divisions, and the Djokovic Division is the second-level high school players.

The top-level high school players are in the Nadal Division, and middle-schoolers play in the Federer Division.

The name Las Chicas de Fuego was inspired by the Alicia Keys song, “Girl on Fire,” and for the talented group of girls, it is the perfect fit.

The girls wanted orange shirts to go with the fuego in their name, but they were given pink instead.

Espinoza laughed Saturday about the choice and said she thinks it was a possible nod to the fact they are the only all-girls team.

The girls have made it a point to use the tough, mostly male competition at the Elliott Tennis Center to their advantage, and being intimidated is not an option.

“When we play against guys that are really good, then it definitely makes us figure out our shots and make it harder on them,” Nordstrom said.

Espinoza played doubles at the Class 5A state tournament last season for Fruita Monument High School, and after a second-round exit she was happy, but not satisfied.

This summer, she is trying to play as much tennis as possible, against the best competition she can find.

In the case of the Community Hospital Team Tennis Tournament, that means playing against boys, which Espinoza approaches with a “bring it on” attitude.

“It just makes me more competitive, and it’s nice to have that much more of a challenge, because they do hit a lot harder, and they are more aggressive,” she said.

Espinoza understands when she is up against players who are stronger, she has to strategize and take a smart approach to the game.

“I kind of try to play at their level and just play consistently, rather than trying to hit like a winner every shot,” she said.

“I just try to play consistent and make sure that I get everything back over and let them make the mistake.”

So far, the strategy has proved successful, and Las Chicas de Fuego really is on fire. The quartet is in position to win the no-ad-scoring tournament, leading the Djokovic Division with 174 points going into today’s final matches, which start at 8 a.m.

The Fantastic Four, an all-boys teams, is second to Las Chicas de Fuego with 137 points.


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