SAN ANTONIO — St. Louis was good to DJ Mendoza and Naomi Ros. They left the city with national honors to bring back to San Antonio.
The Douglas MacArthur High School juniors returned from the USA Racquetball 2022 National High School Championship with a win as mix double national champions.
"Winning can kind of get to your head a little bit," Mendoza said.
He and Ros are members of the Alamo City Racquetball Association. Part of their process is not talking about wins and losses. Instead, players focus on progression.
"I always go back and watch my matches when they recorded," Mendoza.
For Mendoza, he's finally sticking to a sport. According to the teen, he got inspired to play because his father did. Then, curiosity made him put the racquet down.
"I played football, basketball. I ran track. I played soccer and tennis," he said.
His father inspired him to pick the game up again following the pandemic. Fundamentals from his run in other sports started to feed into his play, and it landed him a fourth-place win as a single-player at nationals in his first year back on the court.
"I've sacrificed a lot of time with my family and friends," he said. "To be able to reach my goal to be the number one player."
Players pledge a 100 percent effort, five days a week, 16-18 each week, including teaching younger players the game. At times, they don't want to see the court, racquet, or a pair of goggles.
"But those are always the best days to come, in my opinion," he said.
Ros is navigating her first year at MacArthur. She was born in San Marcos before moving to Mexico with her family.
"So I decided to come and follow the dream," she said.
She got hooked on racquetball in Mexico, but her parents couldn't afford to finance all the opportunities Ros needed. Her grandmother lives in San Antonio.
"And I decide this is my dream," Ros said. "I told my parent I want to follow it. And my parents were like okay -- we're going to support you."
The Alamo City Racquetball Association essentially funds their players' journeys as long as they follow the non-profit's requirements.
It's a dream come true for Ros, but it can also be an emotional nightmare. Leaving her parents behind sounds like a very adult thing to do. As soon as she talks about it, tears run down her face explaining the toll.
"I call them every day, like in the night or in the morning," she said.
She called them after her win with Mendoza. Ros had more news. She is also a singles national winner.
The teen said she's also a budding fashion designer who made one of the outfits she won in.
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