By JUSTIN RAINS
In terms of his tennis, the last year had been a rough one for Palestine-native Ryan Ybarra.
After transferring from Texas Tech to UT-Tyler, Ybarra had seen his season come to a rough end thanks to a foot injury, and led him to wonder about his future in the sport.
In his own words, Ybarra was “burnt out.”
On Sunday at the Tyler Tennis and Swim Club, he put plenty of those doubts to rest.
Despite falling in the first set, Ybarra stormed back to win the second and the third over San Antonio’s Adrian Valdez, the state’s top-ranked player, en route to the Men’s Open singles title at the East Texas Open.
“It gave me a lot of motivation to keep practicing hard,” Ybarra said. “(At) the end of my UT-Tyler season, I got injured and I ended the season terribly. This tournament gave me some motivation to keep on practicing and work hard.”
After dropping the first set, 3-6, Ybarra said he really found his groove, and it showed. He dropped only three games the rest of the match on his way to a 6-2, 6-1 finish.
“I started off a little slow, just getting used to how he played,” he said. “The second set I played a lot better, and then the third set he got a little tired. It was a tough match.”
The East Texas Open holds some prestige to it, and isn’t a run-of-the-mill country club event.
Ybarra played multiple players who either had or were going to play tennis at the college level, including two matches in a matter of hours on Saturday.
After dispatching of his quarterfinal round opponent Julio Olaya in a three-hour marathon, Ybarra turned around and advanced to the finals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over eighth-ranked Hunter Johnson less than two hours later.
Now, Ybarra — who went to school at All Saint’s Episcopal School in Tyler — is headed for Florida to meet up with his coach.
From there he hopes to train and play in pro tournaments in hopes of continuing a career that Sunday’s win helped re-energize.