At the tender age of 14, Belen’s young tennis star, Mariana Spilca, has already spent the better part of her life on the road ,traveling from one tennis tournament to the next.
Spilca first picked up the tennis racket seriously when she was 6 years old, and, since then, she has seen the sites to the tune of tennis tourney after tennis tourney. Mariana has two older siblings: an older bother, who played tennis at New Mexico Military Institute and the Citadel, and an older sister, who played for Albuquerque Academy and University of New Mexico.
“Having an older brother and sister actually made it easier on me,” Mariana said. “I got used to traveling to these tournaments at a young age.”
Mariana doesn’t give her older siblings all the credit for her turning out to be such a great tennis player.
“Practice. Practice is what got me to where I am today,” she said. “I practice two or three hours a day and have practice matches every week.”
The practice has paid off. The youngster finished last season ranked seventh in the nation in the 14-and-under division, and, though she won’t turn 15 until September, she is already ranked in the top-100 in the 16-and-under division.
Mariana spends almost all of her free time practicing with her coach Bob Curtis. At such a young age, she has already achieved a lot in her career. She added to her accomplishments last month when she won a state championship in her freshman year at Sandia Prep.
After a grueling season that took her all the way through both the district and state tournaments, one might think Mariana would be taking a break from tennis to gather herself. But there is no such break for Mariana, who is playing a tournament this weekend at Tanoan Country Club in Albuquerque, will go to Tucson next weekend for another tourney and will spend the entire month of July on the road, traveling from one tournament to the next, all over the country.
Having already conquered the New Mexico state title, Mariana has her sights set on higher achievements.
“I want to be No. 1 in the nation,” Mariana said. “Last year, I got pretty close, at No. 7, but I still want to be No. 1.”
With three more years of high school ahead of her, Mariana still has plenty of time to achieve her goal of being No. 1. A down-to-earth, level-headed young girl, she realizes her work is not done yet.
“I still need to work on my serve some more,” she said, “and I need to be more consistent overall.”