May 10, 2012

Agra's Life-Long Tennis Experiences World-Wide Pay Off With All-WCC Honors

By Student Assistant Sara Vierra '15

Playing on one of the top doubles teams in the West Coast Conference, junior Jessica Agra received First Team All-WCC in doubles this season with sophomore Katie Le as a part of the Bronco women's tennis team. Following her outstanding recognition, she sat down with SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) to share a different side of her athletic adventure. Agra talked about how she first fell in love with tennis and how she pursued her tennis career internationally to receive a Division I scholarship.

SCU: How long have you lived in the United States?

JA: I moved here in January 2010, when I came in my freshman year at Santa Clara. My family's still back in the Philippines.

SCU: Considering how different educational systems are throughout the world, how different is that of Santa Clara University compared to the educational systems in the Philippines?

JA: I was actually homeschooled in high school because I had to travel every month to join international tennis tournaments to get an international ranking high enough to get in a Division 1 college here in the US. I wouldn't really know what the difference is because I didn't really experience school back home since I was 13.

SCU: Was it a difficult transition?

JA: Moving here was really hard for me because I'm really close to my family and friends from back home. I was never really alone until I came here and that was tough for me to handle. And not having been in a classroom for five years, it took time before I settled in my classes here. Also, I came in during winter quarter, which is tough because everyone made friends already during the fall. Everything about moving here was really a big change for me, but I eventually got used to everything. I love being at Santa Clara!

SCU: At what age did you begin to play tennis?

JA: I started playing when I was six years old. My parents enrolled me in a tennis academy that summer, and then I stopped for a year before continuing again when I was seven. I asked my parents if tennis could be a regular thing and not just during the summer.

SCU: In the United States, athletics are highly associated in academic institutions, however, this is not the case in all countries. How/where do athletics fit into academics in the Phillipines?

JA: My grade school was actually very supportive. The principal of the school loved tennis and he encouraged me to pursue my goals. I had tennis as one of my classes because you get to pick what sport you want to play for Physical Education if you didn't want to do the regular ones. The school even created a program where I can miss the first two classes in the morning, along with a few other kids who played tennis, so we can practice before and after classes. I was also a part of the tennis varsity of the school. The school, Colegio de San Agustin, was really supportive. Back home college sports is actually pretty big too. In the Phillipines, universities give scholarships to athletes to pay for the school while they compete.

SCU: How did you discover Santa Clara University and begin to make contact with the tennis program?

JA: My third cousin, Kyle Dandan, who is a part of the Bronco men's tennis team here in SCU, actually came here the year before me and told me about the school.

SCU: After your education here, do you plan on remaining in the United States?

JA: No, I'm going home after I graduate. Even though I love it here at Santa Clara, home is still where my heart is. I miss my family, friends, the food, and just everything about home. I'm planning to go to law school back home after I graduate.

SCU: Do you plan on pursuing tennis after college?

JA: I'm still not sure. Depends on how I do my senior year. But hopefully I can play for the country after I graduate. Maybe I can still play tennis because I'm going to take a year off before I go to law school. We'll see how it goes.

Go Broncos!