INDEPENDENCE — A team captain on the Central High School Panther’s boys soccer team this year, senior Moshe Martinez brought what he learned from that leadership role into his tennis season.

“I learned a lot about leadership because I was the soccer captain this year, and I learned from that, that you have to support your team,” Martinez said. “I think our team did an excellent job supporting one another, and with any good team, what you do is pick them up, you pick each team member up. And you gotta teach them that it’s about having fun.”

Having fun is why Martinez enjoyed playing tennis. His favorite memories of the 2019 season includes joking around with his doubles teammate, senior Alex Jimenez, on the courts.

“Since I’m really close to my partner, we joke around a lot, and in practices we mess around with each other,” Martinez said. “And in a couple games, we started to mess around with each other while playing, which isn’t always the best idea, but there was this one game where it was super wet, but (the rain) was on and off, so they wouldn’t cancel it. So we were just sliding around; it was weird, we were just slipping all over the place, and it was funny because we just started laughing about it, and it was a fun game.”

This season was different from last: Martinez and Jimenez were bumped up into the No. 1 doubles spot.

The tougher seed meant suffering a few more losses.

“Last year we played mostly second and third seed, so this year was a little bit tougher,” he said. “We played against some really good players so we didn’t win as much, but it was still a really fun season.”

Initially, Martinez and Jimenez had plans to go undefeated and make it to the state tournament.

“We played two games and won both, and then the third game didn’t go so well and we lost,” Martinez said. “My teammate, he always mentioned like, ‘we’re gonna go to state’ and I was like, ‘let’s try our best and have fun out there.’”

Head coach Patti Youngren said his positive attitude on the courts did not go unnoticed, and it was part of why she nominated him to be the I-O’s Athlete of the Year for boys tennis.

“Martinez is the best model I have for a student athlete,” Youngren said.  “He balanced academics and extra curriculars well. And, most important, he made sure he was at tennis practices and matches. He only missed twice, and that was so he could prepare and go to an interview for the Ford Foundation Scholarship. While his tennis record is not stellar, he improved greatly over the year and he had a wonderful attitude for his partner and his opponents.”

Martinez is going to pursue Computer Science at Western Oregon University in the fall, where he also plans to get involved in club sports.

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