First Person: Soler Jiminez is Shelby's best state prospect

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By Laura Clark


Antonio Soler Jiminez is undefeated this tennis season, making him the most likely candidate to win the 8th region and advance to the state tournament. Shelby County has not had a tennis player in the state tournament in many years. The 8th Region Tournament begins Monday at Franklin County High School.

Soler Jiminez is a senior foreign exchange student from Seville, Spain. He has been playing tennis since age 8. He was top 3 in his city and top 10 in the broader region in his age group.

He is unsure of his plans after graduation, but he could return to the U.S. for college if he earns an athletic scholarship. He’d like to study medicine or maybe go into a sports-related field.

  On how life here is different:

In Spain I live in a city, so it’s like there are no distances between places. Here, you have to have a car.

Our school is different as well. I enjoy school better at Shelby County. In Spain, it is much harder. We don’t have sports. You have to join clubs.

In Spain, not as many people are religious. Here, a lot of people are really religious and go to church. All my life, I’ve been complaining about going to church. Here, everyone wants to go to church.

  On his decision to be an exchange student: It’s a new experience. You learn English. And to have fun.

I’ve been to many places. Hawaii was pretty awesome. Washington D.C. It’s fun being here.

  On sports beyond tennis:

I play soccer. Well, you know, in Spain almost everybody plays soccer. I’ve played all my life. It’s like basketball here. I couldn’t play [for the high school here] because I got here late. I would have been one of the best, I think.

  On being undefeated:

I don’t know. I was fortunate, because I could have lost I guess. No [close matches] yet.

  On his strengths:

My forehand. I’m pretty consistent with my backhand. But my best stroke is my forehand. When I have confidence, when I have trained, I keep myself up. I try to do my best and win. When I miss a ball, I teach myself what I’m doing badly. I think about the mistake after the point. When I’m very hard on myself its because I’m not playing well.

  On the toughest competition he’s faced:

I think it’s the No. 1 from Western Hills. He was pretty good. He told me that he hadn’t played in two weeks because he was injured. I’ve been training like once a week. I’m not going to complain. But it can be tough for someone. When I was very young, if I didn’t play for like two days in a row, then I didn’t know how to play. It just depends on how much you play. Until three months ago, I trained with coaches at indoor clubs.

  On his Rocket teammates:

They welcomed me. They are good teammates. The No. 2, Nick [Watson gives me the best competition].

  On the upcoming postseason:

I know what I expect in the regional. I don’t know what to expect in the state. I hope I do well. I’m going to try to win. I’m a player. If you play something it’s to win.