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Ochotorena’s experience at tennis academy helped her earn college scholarship

Here’s something you may not know about retail shopping in steamy south Florida:

Apparently, it is possible to buy — in bulk — heavy winter clothing. Go figure.

The larger question, naturally, is why anybody in south Florida would be looking to unburden their wallets of hundreds of dollars for such gear.

But Alexandra Ochotorena’s needs were specific.

Yes, she is an Albuquerquean by birth and still calls the Duke City home. Yes, she trains most of the year at an elite tennis academy in Boca Raton, Fla., where gloves and ski caps aren’t entirely fashionable.

But since her college destination is the University of North Dakota, it was necessary to expand the wardrobe.

“The thing I really loved about (North Dakota),” said the 18-year-old Ochotorena, “was that it (Grand Forks) was a true college town, and I’ll get a true college experience.”

Today marks the start to the last prep signing period of the school year; Ochotorena will be signing her national letter of intent today at the Albuquerque Tennis Club. Her signing is unique, and can’t be categorized as most are since she doesn’t play for a New Mexico high school.

The 5-foot-11 Ochotorena will begin her college career with the Fighting Hawks later this year.

Before then, she’ll have two lengthy training stints in Florida at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy, where both Serena and Venus Williams and another former Grand Slam champion, Jennifer Capriati, all have trained.

“It’s been amazing,” Ochotorena said Tuesday before an afternoon hitting session. “Rick is awesome. The training can’t get better than that.”

It was Albuquerque High tennis coach Becky Lee that put Ochotorena and her father Dave — himself the former longtime director of tennis at the Albuquerque Tennis Club — onto a possible scholarship opportunity at the Macci (MAY-see) Academy.

She’s been a student there since September 2015; her acceptance into the academy was bizarre, to say the least. As she was nursing a knee injury in late 2014, the playing video requested by the academy turned out to be Ochotorena hitting ground strokes — while sitting in a chair.

“It definitely hasn’t been all rainbows,” she said. “It’s definitely a challenge, and at times it’s really hard. But it’s all worked out well.”

Her goal in going to Florida was to secure a Division I scholarship. “I don’t know if going pro is something I want to do,” she added. “College was my goal, and I got that.”

But does she consider herself a Floridian, or a New Mexican? Ochotorena laughed.

“That’s a hard question,” she said. “My mom will be mad if I say Floridian.”

NOTES: A partial list of metro-area athletes signing can be found today on page B2. … Among the notable signings is elite Eldorado swimmer Lauren Burckel, who is signing with Washington State. … Former Eldorado swim coach Quint Seckler, now coaching at Adams State, is signing Belen’s Pilar Aguirre and Albuquerque High’s Emma-Joy Montana, among others.

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