A week ago, junior Carlos Palencia[[ok]] was told that he was the fourth alternate for the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships, and that no fourth alternate had ever made it into the main draw. Then he got a call Tuesday at 7 in the morning telling him that he needed to be on a plane in two hours to fly to College Station, Texas and participate in a goal he has been pursuing for years.
Palencia, one of the best men’s tennis players in Santa Barbara history, rode the wave of emotions as long as he could. Unfortunately that wave came crashing down in the first round. The junior from Cordova, Mexico lost 6-3, 7-5 to Thomas Schneiter from UNLV in what would have been a mammoth upset had Palencia been victorious.
Despite the loss, Palencia knew that one got away from him and was appreciative of the warm treatment from the NCAA.
“I didn’t play my best and I didn’t feel like I really got any rhythm going,” Palencia said. “I had a lot of break chances and I lost some important points, but overall, it was a really close match.”
Palencia even led the match, which is a testament to the closeness of the contest.
When the NCAA came out with its preliminary bracket two weeks ago, Palencia’s name was nowhere to be found. Even though he carried a No. 59 national ranking, he was passed up for a spot in the NCAA’s. Since the NCAA accepts 64 players into their tournament, the news shocked everyone.
Palencia was named the fourth alternate, leaving him with a slap in the face and virtually no chance of making the tournament. But Palencia kept his head up and played as hard as he could in the Gauchos’ first-round team loss to UCLA two weeks ago. Palencia played extremely well and was in position to win the No. 1 singles match when play was suspended because the team match had already been decided.
With all that he had been through, Palencia was extremely surprised when he received a phone call on Tuesday morning with a summons for duty.
“I was really surprised when I found out,” Palencia said. “Surprised and happy.”
Given all of the accolades Palencia has added to his trophy case this season, it is easy to see why he is excited about his accomplishments.
“I am really happy with my season,” Palencia said. “I just hope that I can come out strong in the fall and have an even better season next year.”
Chances are, Palencia won’t let himself down.