FORT COLLINS, Colo. – This is more than just a single moment.
As seniors, they will all stand on the court to say their goodbyes prior to their final home match Sunday against UNLV. They may be in the sunshine – they all hope for that setting – at the CSU Tennis Facility, or the fickle Colorado spring weather just may put them indoors at the Fort Collins Country Club.
Either way, it’s their moment. A chance for coach Jarod Camerota to thank them for their dedication to the Colorado State women’s tennis program. An opportunity to be properly recognized, to wave goodbye to a crowd which will be virtual or outside the fence and then take their best swing at the competition one more time.
Senior Day is not about that, not for any of them. A singular event? Not even close.
The day is about the collection of memories. Of playing matches. The giggles at practice. The road trips with scenic sidebars. The laughter in an airport or a hotel room.
The five players Camerota will honor on the day – Alyssa Grijalva, Emma Corwin, Emily Luetschwager, Priscilla Palermo and Lou Regen – have all left an impression, whether they’ve been with the Rams for five years or one.
For a coach, they all add up, and Camerota will remember. He always does.
“I have memories of all of them,” he said. “I go back when I was an assistant at Ball State in 2003. I remember every player by name and all of their quirks. I definitely don’t forget any of my players.”
The emotions are real for the players. As true freshmen, it was an exciting beginning with an unknown end, one they have all now reached. Some already have jobs lined up. Others are still finalizing plans, even for further education.
Each step they took leaves an impression, not just for them, but for Camerota and his assistant, Scott Langs. They day floods them with memories every year, and they go through it basically every season.
Camerota has seen them grow as players, but what always moves to the forefront of his mind is the young women they developed into while they were Rams. Their interests, what made them laugh, the process of maturation for all of them.
“It’s wild. It goes all the way back to Alyssa’s junior year in high school when I was the assistant coach at Northern Arizona,” Camerota said. “That was right when you could still recruit juniors, and it comes all the way to now. Some of them have played together for four years, and you definitely go back all the way, because I was recruiting them in their junior years, as well.
“They’ve definitely raised the level and profile of Colorado State tennis by being good players. They’ve made the team better. But every one of them, you have the memories of each person, what you remember about her, what you recall about another player. They are all unique.”
Five of them will exit together this season, even if they arrived at different times. Grijalva returned for a fifth year to help fill out the roster, and she was on hand as Corwin, Luetschwager and Palermo all arrived in the same recruiting class, jumping into the lineup as true freshmen. Regen is new to it all, joining as a graduate student for one year, the Rams being the third program she’s called her team.
They all had different recollections of their time as a Ram, but a common theme was the team aspect and finding a bond with a group of young women in a sport which had such an individual feel for all of them growing up.
Emma Corwin – “CSU was my golden ticket. Coming out here has been the biggest adventure of my life. I’m so grateful for this team and the sport of tennis. Getting to travel and share and struggle and succeed with the most incredible people has been my greatest experience in life, so to pick just one memory is impossible. CSU has brought me my closest friends and taught me so much about myself, too. I’m forever grateful for this experience and place.”
Alyssa Grijalva – “When my dad was in the hospital (in California last year, during the team’s final road trip before the pandemic closed down the season), my coach and my teammates came to visit me in the hospital and check up on me and my dad and my family. I think in general, as a team, they felt like my family as well. Knowing that I had them was awesome.”
Emily Luetschwager – “My favorite part of tennis and where all of my favorite moments come from is just traveling with the team, going to new places. That’s something I really looked forward to coming to college tennis, especially coming out here to Colorado and traveling to all these new places I’ve never been. My favorite memories from CSU tennis just come from all our team trips. It’s so fun to be able to play the matches, then afterward, explore the city a little. We’ve done so many random things, like going to beach in San Diego or seeing the seals in La Jolla. It’s all been a really fun experience, and then having all of your teammates there for it is such a great time.”
Priscilla Palermo – The thing I reminisce about is our last conference tournament, because we haven’t had one in two years and we won’t have one this year. When we beat Nevada my sophomore year, that had to be the best, because that was my first conference tournament team win and it really highlighted the team for me. Growing up, tennis was such an individual sport and you kinda felt lonely out there. But college tennis just encompassed the whole team aspect and being able to build that team camaraderie. I think that helped me be more successful on the court, because I didn’t feel as lonely.”
Lou Regen – “My best memory with CSU tennis was this past weekend, when we went to Wyoming and got to play for the first time in a month and got away with a 4-3 win against Nevada. There have been a lot of obstacles this season for the team, and we have not had a full team because of COVID precautions – in and out of quarantines and injuries, etc. When matches haven’t been canceled because of COVID, they have been canceled because of weather. So to finally be able to compete and fight together as a team after that long and hard period was really exciting and fun. I felt better than I had in a long time on the court, and it was great to get a win where every single player contributed. College tennis is about competing together. Tennis is such an individual sport, but in college, it is a team sport. And this weekend, I really got to feel that team fight again. That’s what we are here to do. Fight together.”
Colorado State allowed opportunity for them all to change. In some cases, the alterations were rather noticeable, others were subtle, occurring over time. But like the final match at home, one aspect may stand out at the moment, but in time, it’s the compilation of the time spent together which means the most.