Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay University (APSU) women’s tennis players, twins Claudia Yanes Garcia and Lidia Yanes Garcia, stood shoulder to shoulder adorned in graduation caps and gowns Monday afternoon in Austin Peay’s Iris Room as the University’s top leaders took turns honoring them.
The twins didn’t say much, other than a Spanish-accented “thank you” here and there, but their smiles shined – as their smiles always do – and that spoke loudly and clearly.
For four years, the Yanes Garcia twins from Los Realejos, Spain, played tennis side by side for Austin Peay State University, lifting the Governors to an OVC tennis championship this year. They also studied side by side, both earning 4.0 GPAs en route to computer science degrees.
Side by side. Through it all. Smiles always shining.
The four-year journey culminated Monday afternoon in the Iris Room as the University held a special graduation ceremony for the twins. They missed their May 3rd commencement because they were leading the Governors in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
“We’re really proud of you,” APSU President Alisa White said. “We’re proud of your academic performance. We’re proud of the way you conducted yourselves here. It had to be tough so far from home, but you were just model students, model citizens, model athletes.”
At roughly 1:15pm, APSU Governors tennis coach Ross Brown called the twins’ names, and they approached White and Provost Rex Gandy to receive their bachelor’s degrees.
“I feel so good,” Lidia Yanes Garcia said. “I didn’t expect to do graduation because when we won the OVC, we knew we were going to miss graduation day. We’re so proud to be here today. Everybody is here.”
Her sister, Claudia, laughed: “I felt like everyone was looking!
“But I felt good because that means we’ve been four years studying and we have something,” Claudia added.
The twins aren’t finished with Austin Peay, though. They’re going home this summer and will return to Clarksville in time for the fall semester to work toward their master’s degrees.
The Yanes Garcia sisters are two of the most decorated athletes in Austin Peay history. Lidia won OVC player of the year three times, and Claudia nearly won the award this year.
Both were First Team All-OVC every year they played (Claudia missed the regular season her junior year because of an injury).
“These ladies are special, and they really deserve this,” Brown said. “Whatever they lack in stature (Claudia is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and Lidia is an inch shorter), let me tell you, they have it in heart. They’ve given it their best effort every time they walk on the court.”
APSU Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison added: “Claudia and Lidia have done great things at our institution. Look at what they accomplished on the court. Look at their academics. We’re really proud of them.”