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Draper Journal

Draper family wins tennis award

Mar 16, 2020 01:23PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Homero, Claudia, Ana and Valeria Rico, of Draper, received the USTA Tennis Family of the Year award recently. (Photo courtesy Rico family)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

The Rico family of Draper were recognized as the United States Tennis Association/Intermountain Utah Tennis Family of the Year at the organization’s annual banquet Jan. 30.

Ana and Valeria Rico have played in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots for the Juan Diego Catholic High School tennis team the past two seasons while parents Homero and Claudia have been right there as well supporting the tennis community.

“We are honored to receive this award, not only as a family, but also as an important part of the Draper community we are proudly representing,” Homero Rico said. 

JDCHS tennis coach Marisa Smith nominated the Ricos for the award after watching the dedication the sisters, who were the varsity co-captains this past season, have displayed within the program and the examples they are to all of their teammates on the court and in the classroom as well with high GPAs.

“These girls never missed a practice or a match and would show up ready to learn and eager to help out when needed,” Smith said. “They both improved their game, each earning a spot at the state tournament. They have fierce competitive spirits; however, they are such good friends with one another that when I put them against each other to determine who plays in the number one spot, it almost always would end up in a tie because they don’t want to hurt the other one’s feelings.”

Smith said she has also observed the support from Claudia and Homero in taking care of each player. They were at every match to encourage and lend help wherever needed. “That’s just how this tight-knit family is,” Smith said. “They care about everyone around them. No matter how far we traveled, Claudia was always there with a smile on her face asking if anyone needed anything.”

Utah Tennis Service Representative Garrett Snyder said the Ricos were chosen for the award for the involvement the entire family has had in tennis in the area. “We love the family aspect, giving back to their team and the common goal of loving tennis,” Snyder said.

Homero Rico grew up playing tennis for much of his youth and dreamed of the day he could pass along his love of the game with his family. When his girls were 6 and 7, he began “coaching” his daughters. “It was one of the most amazing — and entertaining — family experiences we ever had,” Homero Rico said. “At the beginning, it was challenging, but with my wife’s support and patience and my girls’ attitudes, we achieved a great family passion. My dream has come true, and today, tennis is now integral to our family.”

Tennis has also provided opportunities for the Rico family to learn life lessons to become better people while also using humor in every match. “The way we play is the way we are,” he said. “We have learned to be patient and wait for our chance as well as when to be aggressive and ‘kill’ the point. Tennis has taught us how to manage ourselves in moments of anxiety.”

Homero Rico gives credit to the Juan Diego tennis program for the “outstanding job” the coaches have done in helping his daughters improve their skills and become state qualifiers.