Brothers headed to LaGrange College
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – They’ve been playing tennis alongside each other for more than a decade, and they’re not ready to give that up.
Brothers Alán Valdez and Carlos Valdez are each set to enroll at LaGrange College, and they’ll both be joining the tennis team to play for head coach Matt Donnett next spring.
The brothers, who are also both accomplished musicians, made it official during a ceremony this week where they announced their intentions while proudly wearing LaGrange College T-shirts.
“We mainly wanted to stay together right now,” said Alán Valdez. “We didn’t want to split up right yet.”
Added Carlos Valdez: “I didn’t want to go too far. I was pretty much set on LaGrange. It worked out well.”
The ceremony was held at McCluskey Tennis Center, which is fitting considering how much time they’ve spent there over the years.
They began working with head professional Bill Champion when they were 5-years-old, and they learned the sport in part from sharing the court with many of the adult players at the facility.
One of those adults, Stephen Edelson, presented the brothers with checks to help with their college expenses.
“I remember when I was playing tennis and they were first coming up, and I would hit tennis balls with them,” Edelson said. “I could barely see them on the other side of the net. I could just see this racket hitting the ball back at me. These guys are fantastic players.”
Alán Valdez said he was appreciative of everyone who was there to enjoy the moment with he and his brother.
“I didn’t know it was going to be anything like this,” he said. “We were real surprised with everybody that was here. It makes you feel really good. They all want you to go further.”
Carlos Valdez said it “felt great” to have people he and his brother have grown so close to there with them.
“I never really dreamed about playing college tennis when I was young,” he said. “I’m just really thankful for all of these people that have come here to support us. It feels good.”
Champion has been spent plenty of time with the brothers over the years.
Champion helped teach them how to play the sport, and later they worked alongside him instructing young players during clinics.
“As a coach, this is what you dream about,” Champion said.
Alán Valdez said Champion has helped him become the player he is.
“He motivates you, keeps you wanting to go out and be better,” Valdez said.
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