By Garret Pekar
After defeating every opponent that had enough nerve to stand across the net from him on the ping-pong table in the recreational gym, Ramon Aguirre told the UMHB students that he played ping-pong against some of the best players in Texas in the past.
“Coming to UMHB was the right move,” he said. “I like the atmosphere here a lot better.”
Aguirre is a transfer student from Hardin-Simmons University, and he just started his first semester as a Crusader in the spring. He is currently a junior majoring in business finance and a member of the UMHB tennis team. Aguirre said that playing ping-pong helps him on the tennis court, too.
“The strategies in both games are mostly the same. Ping-pong helps with the touch you need to hit drop shots on the tennis court, and it teaches you patience mentally, which is a big part of being a great tennis player.”
Aguirre played on the tennis team at HSU. He only started playing ping-pong in his freshman year of college.
“A friend on the tennis team introduced me to it,” he said. “We’d stay up for hours and play.”
He quickly became the number one player on HSU’s ping-pong club team, which went to two major tournaments during the year. Aguirre played some of the best players in Texas, even from large schools like Texas A&M and the University of Texas.
“The other schools have some really amazing players. I couldn’t believe how seriously they took ping-pong,” Aguirre said.
The whole club team was supplied with high-quality ping-pong balls for playing in the tournament, and the hosts paid for the cost of their trip.
Aguirre also played in recreational tournaments on campus while at HSU. Many students played in the ping-pong tournaments, including beginners, and prizes were offered for the winners.
“There needs to be a ping-pong tournament here,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre has been playing tennis since the eighth grade. He grew up in Abilene where he played tennis for Abilene High School.
Coming from the HSU tennis team, Aguirre said he was welcomed with open arms to the UMHB tennis team.
“We’re happy to have the help, and take it away from someone else,” said senior tennis teammate, Casey Wharton.
Aguirre was also eager for the meeting of the two teams during the season.
“My partner and I won our doubles match against Hardin-Simmons,” he said.
Aguirre’s teammates have given him the nickname “the machine from Abilene.”
He has worked many different jobs during high school and college. He said that working all the time was very difficult, and it took up a lot of the time he could have been using to practice tennis.
Work aside, Aguirre achieved the significant rank of champ in the United States Tennis Association. He has also played a challenger, a tennis tournament just under the professional level, in which he won three preliminary rounds.
It is hard for Aguirre to decide which game he enjoys more.
“For fun, ping-pong, but overall, definitely tennis,” he said.
Aguirre participated in many other intramural activities at HSU, including bowling, Texas hold ‘em, pool, chess, basketball, flag-football, hand ball, racquetball and disc golf.
During the summer, Aguirre worked at the Texas A&M Tennis Camp where he met fellow tennis player, Mitch Hallum. The two became good friends and are now reunited on the Crusader tennis team.
“He is a solid player ….Even more important than that, he’s a great guy that adds to the overall character of the team,” Hallum said.
Aguirre enjoyed teaching tennis at the camp this past summer. He is considering coaching tennis as a career someday.
Until then, he will continue to play tennis and ping-pong. He insists that he has “the fastest hands in the West.” The next tennis match is March 21.