Club tennis teams in the works for Los Lunas youth

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Students in Los Lunas Schools who want to play tennis don't have an outlet to play the sport in the village, but that could soon change.

Working with the village of Los Lunas sports and recreation department and Los Lunas Schools, Matt Castillo has begun a club tennis team for middle-schoolers in the hopes that varsity tennis teams eventually can be formed for both Los Lunas and Valencia High schools within the next five years.

"Right now, Los Lunas tennis is almost non-existent," Castillo explained. "Belen has a sustained program that's been there for a long time. So it's going to be a process. It's not going to happen overnight. We're going to be patient with it.

Tryouts for the club team for sixth- through eighth-graders take place from 5 to 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at San Antonio Park in Los Lunas. The team will practice and play matches this fall. Come spring, a junior varsity- level club team will be started at Los Lunas High, Castillo said.

The idea for the club tennis teams at the mid- and high-school level started last summer, said Castillo. A camp was organized at San Antonio Park and drew nearly a dozen players, Castillo said.

The hope was that the middle-school and high-school club teams would be started in the 2012-13 school year, but Castillo said Los Lunas Schools athletic officials asked him to wait a year.

With support from the village and schools, Castillo said the next step is to recruit players.

"Right now we have a lot of female students," Castillo said of the six girls already signed up for the team. "But we're trying to find some boys. We're going into the schools and make announcements."

Castillo, who teaches math at Valencia High when not playing recreational tennis, said he also will distribute fliers and that the village recreation department has arranged to have a banner made to hang on Main Street.

For the time being, players will practice at courts at San Antonio Park and Daniel Fernandez Park. Castillo said he hoped a facility similar to Belen High's tennis facility could be built in the future.

He said he's worked closely with the Belen High and mid-school program recently and hopes to have something established by the time his sons, Isaiah and Xavier, both grade-schoolers, make it to middle school in two to three years.

"I can see it doing very well, once we get the support of everyone," Castillo said. "Right now we need at least eight players to make it happen. After that, we'll just need to keep it growing."