Flor Rios and the start of a tennis dynasty!
Greg Pfent has been coaching tennis at Kellogsville for over 30 years (he started the program), but nothing in his experience quite prepared him for Flor Rios. Flor, a senior who played number one doubles for the Rockets this year, is the oldest daughter of Antonia Ortiz and Saturnino Rios. Rios and her partner Angela Bergsma racked up a winning season and were named All Conference. They finished second in the OK Rainbow conference match to tennis powerhouse Forest Hills Northern.
What makes Flor’s story remarkable is that when she appeared for her first tennis practice four years ago as a freshman, she had NEVER played the game. She fell in love with the sport immediately and took practice very seriously, according to her coach. As you can imagine the first year she played, Rios “got killed most of the time” playing matches for the JV team. Getting whipped only seemed to make Flor more determined.
She told us that she and her friend Kim Vo played for hours every day the summer after freshman year. They would hit the public courts at 8 am and play for four hours or so, take a couple hours off for lunch and then come back for several more hours in the afternoon. They practiced the fundamentals of the game and it payed off. These days Pfent describes Flor as a “strong player” who covers the court well and loves to get aggressive at the net. She has a great serve and never tires or quits, even if she is behind.
“I don’t have to coach her much if she is losing. She gets a determined look on her face and will say to me, ‘We are going to get this’,” Pfent said.
Back in her freshman year, Flor was so excited about tennis that she told the coach she was going to get her sisters to play as well.
“I didn’t take her that seriously when she told me she was going to get her sisters,” Pfent recalled.
Flor’s actions followed her words. Not only has she recruited all three of her siblings to play tennis, she has also taken the time to work with them on their games and her hard work and dedication will mean a Rios family legacy at Kellogsville. Pfent has coached two sisters in his career several times, but has never been blessed with four.
Dulce, known as Candy, is a sophomore with two varsity seasons under her belt. She played fourth doubles as a freshman and moved to number two doubles with Taylor Chambers this year. The Rockets lose seven seniors so she will no doubt be part of the number one doubles team next year because she prefers playing with a partner. Flor credits Candy with being a calm player who hits everything back.
The next Rios in line is freshman Sara. Sara likes to play singles and she spent a good deal of the season playing first singles for the jv team. Pfent called Sara his “super sub” because she could fill in on the varsity team whenever she was needed this season. He looks for her to be playing varsity singles, maybe in the top spot, as a sophomore. Flor told us Sara is very fast on her feet.
Martha Rios is a seventh grader, but Pfent is already familiar with her skills on the court and is looking forward to when she joins the Rockets. He said she can “hold her own” with most of the jv team already. Flor considers one of Martha’s best attributes to be the way she never gets down on herself and is always ready to play the next point.
Flor Rios is a young lady who is full of life and gives the impression that she loves everything she is involved in: school, tennis, volleyball, and music. Flor started playing the clarinet in seventh grade. She plays in the symphonic and marching bands and credits Mr. Anderson with making Band her favorite class.
“He is a great teacher and band has always felt like a big family to me,” Flor said.
Thanks in large part to more recruitment from Flor; the Rios family will also be lending their skills to the Kellogsville volleyball team and music department. Candy plays the flute, Sara the clarinet, and Martha will be bringing her saxophone with her. All three sisters will be playing volleyball for the Rockets and Martha plays basketball – even though Flor is not sure “where that came from”.
Some families might have problems when the members all play the same sports and are involved in band, but Flor told us that all the together time has actually improved how the sisters all get along. She did mention that being so active means they get home pretty worn out and that they might be too tired to fight.
Flor will be attending GRCC next year and wants to play tennis for them as she studies in the dental hygiene program. She envisions herself playing tennis for the rest of her life – with a club or team and with her sisters.
We close with more words from coach Pfent. He described Flor as a tough competitor who loves people, a combination that makes for excellent sportsmanship because she never says a bad word about the other team.
“Flor is a great ambassador for herself, the school and the tennis team,” Pfent concluded.
She is all that indeed.