TCU Daily Skiff Friday, March 05, 2004
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Aburto hopes to end career on top
A women’s tennis player took the road less traveled from Mexico to the professional ranks to Fort Worth.

By Sarah Greene

Many college athletes spend their collegiate careers preparing themselves for the pros, but senior tennis player Paty Aburto has already been there.

However, Aburto’s tennis career started by accident.

It wasn’t until she was eight years old and attending her older brother Santiago’s tennis tournaments that she finally started to play tennis.

While watching her brother play, Aburto would always be seen running around and playing on the court. And it wasn’t long until the women’s team took notice. Short a roster spot, they gave Aburto the opportunity, and she rewarded them by winning the tournament.

From there, the rest is history.

Introducing Aburto to tennis isn’t the only influence her brother has had in her life, though. In fact, she credits him as her most inspirational person.

“The way he sees life — it’s so relaxing,” Aburto said. “I would like to be more like him.”
In her four seasons at TCU, it’s safe to say the women’s tennis team is also happy she aspires to be so much like her brother.

“It’s getting to be fun,” head coach Dave Borelli said. “It’s a shame, I wish she had another year.”

Borelli can’t complain about losing the senior because those four years were a luxury for the Frogs, considering Aburto’s journey to play tennis at TCU was anything but planned.
In fact, it wasn’t until after finishing high school that Aburto decided to play professional tennis with the Mexican Tennis Federation. She traveled to Russia with the Mexican team to play in the Olympic Youth Games.

She then went on to play pro for a year, an experience that she said changed her life.

“In that year, I realized tennis was not everything,” Aburto said. “I needed something for after tennis.”

Her opportunity for more came at a tournament in Florida, when she realized what she wanted to do. After talking to the Ole Miss tennis coach, she decided she wanted to attend college in the United States.

And in the fall of 2000, Aburto enrolled at TCU.

In the beginning

Growing up, her family took tennis very seriously. As a result, Aburto remembers traveling with her mother to tournaments every weekend, because high schools in Mexico didn’t have competitive sports teams. While traveling to these tournaments, Aburto formed rivalries with the players from other cities that she faced each weekend.
Those tournaments were a great experience for Aburto, despite them keeping her from spending time with her family.

“Every tournament I won against those girls are my favorites,” she said.

She played tournaments as a youth in the United States, Brazil and throughout Mexico.
Karla Mancinas, one of those rivals from Mexico, currently shares the court and the claim to the No. 2 TCU women’s doubles title with Aburto.

Mancinas, an international finance major, has known Aburto for 10 years. They were partners in the 1998 Mexican National Championship.

“She’s a great doubles player, always cheering me up,” Mancinas said.
In fact, Aburto is the reason Mancinas came to TCU.

“She called me up and was like, ‘I love this school, you should come’,” Mancinas said.
Becoming teammates with a good friend is not all Aburto has managed to achieve. Her long resumé includes 25 Mexican National Championships and her current status as the No. 1 singles player for TCU.

“She’s a great cheerleader,” said Borelli, who has nothing but praise for Aburto.

He said her strength is her competitiveness, not to mention her tremendous speed and power.

“She’s been able to channel that,” Borelli said. “She can put the ball back into play instead of going for no-brainer, zero-percentage shots — that’s confidence.”

Borelli said he thinks she realizes if she plays well she can beat the No. 1 player in college. He said she takes that attitude on the court with her every time.

Aburto has received the Conference USA Women’s Tennis Player of the Week award twice this season, most recently for the period ending Feb. 28.

Aburto said she identifies with professional tennis player Jennifer Capriati because of Capriati’s strength.

“Her tennis is awesome, so I try to be like her,” Aburto said.
Gustavo Kuerten, a professional tennis player from Brazil, also inspires Aburto.

“He’s so intense,” Aburto said. “He always fights and never gives up.”

Looking into the future

After four years at TCU, she says she does not regret leaving her family or Mexico.

Aburto said she sees her family about twice a year. Her father, Santiago Aburto, is a lawyer; and her mother, Delfina Garcia, is a housewife.

Both her parents play tennis.

Aburto said if given $10,000 to do what she pleased, she would take her family to Cancun and spend time shopping and hanging out at the beach.

Now, however, tennis keeps her from her family and from school.

“It’s hard to play tennis and do school seriously,” she said.

Classes require her to be in town, but she has missed six days already this semester. Professors have given her a hard time when she tries to explain her absence, even though the schedule shows she won’t be in class.

Aburto said she chose her advertising/public relations major because she loves interacting with people. She looks forward to spending next year finishing her degree.

Aburto’s not sure what the future holds, but Borelli has little doubt in his mind.

He hopes that she will help out with the team next year, even though she will no longer be eligible to compete.

“I’d love to have her involved,” Borelli said. “She’s up-beat, funny and she’s always got that smile on her face.”

Borelli said he thinks she should continue playing after college, but for now, Aburto has the rest of the season to worry about.

Although she is not currently ranked nationally, she has recently upset nationally ranked players, including No. 4 Anda Perianu of Oklahoma.

Borelli is confident that when the rankings come out in the next two weeks, Aburto will find her name on the list. In order to qualify for nationals, players must be nationally ranked.

If Aburto wins conference in April, she will qualify for regionals. By that time if she has a ranking in the top 32, she will advance to the NCAA Tournament in Georgia.

“Since this is my last year, my goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament,” she said.
Paty Aburto
Sarah Greene/Staff Photographer
Paty Aburto, a senior advertising/public relations major, waits for her private lesson to begin at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center.
 
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