Parra serves as assistant coach for Syracuse 2 years removed from playing on team

first_img Published on April 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm Contact Ryan: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ When Luke Jensen resigned at the beginning of the season, interim head coach Shelley George contacted Alessondra Parra to serve as her assistant.At the time, Parra was pursuing a professional career while coaching on the side, and decided that returning to Syracuse was too good of an opportunity to pass up. “I made that decision that I was going to prioritize coaching over playing,” Parra said.Parra played for Syracuse from 2008–12, at a time when George served as the assistant. She earned more than 100 wins as a player while leading the program to its highest ranking in school history.She’s regarded as one of the best players in Syracuse tennis history and has returned to the program as an assistant coach this season, helping the team to a ranking as high as 59th in the nation.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Just being here now, and being able to take the position this spring was such an amazing opportunity for me,” Parra said. “It was really fulfilling in a lot of ways being able to work with the players at my alma mater.”When Parra finished her career at Syracuse, she aimed to make it as a professional player. As she struggled to break through on the professional tour, finances became an issue with her traveling across the world to play in tournaments.Parra started working part time as a coach while training in Sea Island, Ga., last year to help fund her travel expenses.Then, at the beginning of 2014, she decided to train in Syracuse, toning her skills while working out with her team in the weight room.While in Central New York, Jensen resigned and since Parra was already in Syracuse, George didn’t have to go far to find her and offer the spot. Deciding whether to take the job or not proved to be a challenging decision for Parra. She had just gained wild-card entry into a professional tournament in Michigan in April, but it would conflict with her coaching schedule if she took the job.But after much debate, Parra decided to return to her alma mater. “From that point, it has been about the coaching,” Parra said. “It hasn’t been about the playing. That’s how it’s going to be until the end of the season, and then I’ll reassess.”Parra’s day-to-day responsibilities involve helping prepare practice, discussing who needs to work on what with George, setting up and conducting individual workouts with the players in the mornings and even some grunt work like carrying the water to the court.Since joining the team, Parra has helped improve the Orange, which has grabbed wins over three nationally ranked opponents after a difficult start to the year.Parra has also helped progress the three starting freshmen — Maria Avgerinos, Rhiann Newborn and Valeria Salazar — to where they now play and win important matches for the team.“A lot of stuff she does really well is mind-set stuff,” Avgerinos said. “Just with her intensity and her aggression, that’s really helped me since she’s came here.”Amanda Rodgers played with Parra in doubles during her freshman year, when Parra was a senior captain. For a quieter player like Rodgers, Parra helped her improve her game with her ability to stay intense and fierce on the court.“I didn’t really know about the whole college atmosphere and she kind of helped me through that,” Rodgers said. “She definitely helped me become a better doubles player; she helped me stay intense on the court and had really good doubles strategy.”And when George coached her as a player, she saw a potential coach based off Parra’s work ethic — and recognized that she still puts everything into her work, on and off the court. If offered the permanent assistant coaching job at the end of the season, Parra has no idea whether she would take the job or continue to pursue a professional career.“I would be extremely fortunate and grateful to have an opportunity like that,” Parra said. “I think that for me, I enjoy both so much. “With coaching, I still feel like I can play, like I can still play while I coach. If something like that happened, I would really need to consider it.” Commentslast_img

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