April 22, 2011
“Quesada Reunion” lifts Northwest to Saturday’s final
By David Boyce
KANSAS CITY, MO. _ The rain that struck early Friday morning forced the MIAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships from the outdoor courts at the Plaza to the indoor facility at Hilltop Racquet Club.
But there was no way the inclement weather was going to dampen the mood of Northwest Missouri State senior Daniel Quesada.
Sure, the results on the court were plenty to put a smile on Quesada's face Friday afternoon.
Quesada teamed up with senior Malcolm Harrison to beat Nebraska-Omaha's No. 1 doubles team 8-3. Quesada also won his No. 5 singles match 6-1, 6-1 as the Bearcats trounced the Mavericks 5-0 in the semifinals.
Northwest, 18-4, will play in the championship round Saturday at the Plaza.
This weekend, however, means so much more to Quesada then merely winning tennis matches.
Quesada, a native of San Jose, Costa Rica, basically orchestrated a family reunion in Kansas City.
A couple of months ago Quesada wrote letters to his mother and father and other family members about traveling to Kansas City to see him play in one of his last collegiate matches.
"It was really important," said Quesada's mother, Monica.
Quesada admits he enjoys having people around to cheer him on. It pumps him up on the tennis court.
He was probably feeling extra strong Friday because his parents, two brothers and grandfather made the trip from Costa Rica. Also, his uncle made it from Miami and an aunt is expected to arrive Friday evening from Connecticut.
"I saw them in doubles and I could hear them," Quesada said.
The afternoon of tennis at Hilltop filled the father with emotion.
"It left me with a feeling of pride," he said. "It's difficult to describe. It's a very overwhelming feeling to see your son play in his final year, and the most important thing is he's accomplished all his goals. It's very nice. You feel pride at his accomplishments and his development."
Quesada is majoring in finance and plans to return to Costa Rica after he graduates. For now, he's enjoying his final stretch as a student-athlete.
Really, it can't get much better than this. He's 15-1 in doubles and likes playing with Harrison.
"They complement each other," Northwest coach Mark Rosewell said. "They get along really well. Doubles is all about complementing each other."
Chemistry on the court is necessary in doubles. Partners must know each other's strengths and weaknesses.
"I think he's an explosive player," Harrison said. "The guy can make shots from anywhere on the court. When he gets it going he's playing on a very high level.
"We have similar attitudes and our approach in the way we think about life. We are both pretty aggressive. We are very confident in our ability to go out and succeed and we thrive off each other's energy."
Quesada added that they have the confidence that they don't fear anyone.
"We trust each other," he said. "You can throw anybody out there and we are going to play our game. We respect them, but we still know we are good. They better play well because we know we aren't going to give them any free shots."
Listening to Quesada it is easy to tell it doesn't take much to get him fired up. He sometimes needs somebody to balance him out on the curt. Harrison does that.
"He is a guy who keeps control," Quesada said. "I tend to get really heated in my head. It's a good thing because it gets me going. But if you go into overdrive it can blow up so having somebody to calm you down is good.
"I like the confidence he gives me when he's at the net. I know when I hit a good forehand he's going to put the ball away and I won't have to hit three good forehands to put the point away."
All in all, Quesada was happy with the way he played in front of his family on Friday.
"I think I played pretty good, solid," he said. "In doubles, we had ups and little bit of a down. Sometimes when we hit a good ball and they, I don't want to call it a lucky shot, but an unexpected shot and it kind of brought us down a little. But that was the only slump. 8-3 is a good win."
Really, how can it get any better for Quesada this weekend, especially if the Bearcats play up to their No. 1 seed and win the MIAA men's title.
Quesada got to experience the thrill of a conference title a year ago in his first season at Northwest. It's one of his highlights.
"There are a lot of things like winning conference last year," he said. "Beating Abilene Christian was a big win. This year we beat Midwestern in a pretty tight match. 15-1 in doubles makes you want to keep it going. You don't want to end on a losing streak. You want to keep building up."
Rosewell definitely likes the way Quesada has played this year and what he has brought to the program.
"Daniel has had a good season. He played well today. He's one of the ones who have really stepped up. He's only lost two or three times," Rosewell said.
"He's had a real positive experience. He came to us from a Division I school. He came here and really bought into it."
For the rest of this tennis season, which will include a trip to regionals for the men's team, Quesada is taking a pretty simple approach.
"I'm just playing," he said.
And that's been good enough.
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