Former TJC tennis standout Elizabeth Kapari Bagerbaseh recently discovered a connection to her Tyler roots in the Sunshine State.
Bagerbaseh is a residential mentor at IMG Academy, a world-class sports training and educational institution in Bradenton, Florida. As a mentor, she provides guidance to students who live and train on campus.
On the door of new boarding student Isabelle “Izzy” Heines, she noticed the girl’s hometown: Tyler, Texas.
Heines, who is the daughter of Michelle Tyer Heines and Tyler Mayor and TJC alumnus Martin Heines, attends the academy’s soccer program.
Martin Heines said, “When Izzy was recruited by IMG to play girls U15 soccer on their U.S. Soccer Development Academy team at age 12, we were both excited for Izzy’s opportunity and apprehensive at the same time.”
He added, “We will never forget when we first met Elizabeth. She was the only one at IMG who knew how to properly pronounce ‘Tyler,’ so we had an instant connection.”
“It’s a very small world, isn’t it?” Bagerbaseh said in a telephone interview. “Tyler was the first place I lived when I came from the U.K. to the U.S. for academics and sports. I have great memories of my time there. TJC is a very friendly place.”
Bagerbaseh was born in Ghana and grew up in England. As a member of the TJC women’s tennis team, she earned 2015 ITA NFCAA All-America honors and ranked No. 8 nationally in the ITA NJCAA National Doubles Rankings. She helped the Apaches finish runner-up in the NJCAA Women's Division I Tournament.
After TJC, she transferred to the University of Central Florida, where she cracked the starting lineup as a junior and newcomer. At UCF, she primarily played No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles, finishing last year with a 10-7 singles record and 5-12 doubles record.
Bagerbaseh spent her senior year at Xavier University, where she won 12 matches in dual play at the No. 5 spot and one match at the No. 4 spot. She was named to the 2017-18 Big East All-Academic Team.
She graduated in 2018 and has since been employed at IMG Academy.
“Izzy is a great student and she’s very hardworking,” she said. “It’s an honor to be able to work with young athletes who are so focused and dedicated.”
Heines said, “IMG is a highly competitive environment, so Izzy is in class, studying or on the field training all day long. Having a mentor from our daughter’s hometown is comforting for her and for us. Elizabeth is a fine role model for Izzy and has truly helped her adjust to boarding amongst a dorm full of motivated, strong-willed young athletes.”
Dr. Juan E. Mejia, TJC president for branch locations and district provost, said, “TJC is proud to celebrate alumni who continue to represent the institution in stellar ways through their positive impact in all sectors of life. Our student athletes tend to win on and off the field and, in a very capable way, are able to continue to build on their institutional success as they carry these strong traits throughout their lives.”