Doubles completed before Monday cancellations
By KEITH SPARKS
It’s been a long wait for the Liberty Hill tennis teams, which before Monday evening hadn’t played a match since their first tournament on Aug. 11-12. Poor weather has led to the cancellation of matches against Pflugerville Hendrickson, Temple and Copperas Cove. Even Monday night’s singles matches against Wimberley were cancelled due to lightning, though the doubles were completed.
“We were down 3-4 going into singles,” second-year Head Tennis Coach Jacob Jones said, regarding the Panthers’ matchup against the Wimberley Texans on Monday. “We had about a quarter of our singles on (before they were cancelled). Most were up a set, or break, or something, so I think we would have come back and won.”
For the boys varsity team, Chase Franklin and Cooper Badon lost their doubles match in Wimberley in straight sets, losing 3-6 and 4-6. Henry Madison and Gunnar Ortega won their match in straight sets by scores of 6-2 and 6-1. Jesse Henry and Nathan Karr lost in straight sets, losing 4-6 and 2-6.
For the girls varsity team, Alex Svetlik and Kennedy Coleman won their doubles match in straight sets by scores of 6-2 and 6-0. Hannah Crow and Kerri Bunting lost two sets to one, losing the first 2-6, winning the second 7-6 (3), and losing the third 7-10. Kaity Sullivan and Angelica Melendy lost in straight sets by scores of 2-6 and 4-6.
Josh Bunting and Paris Durante paired up for mixed doubles, beating the Texans two sets to one. They won their first set 6-4, lost the second 5-7, and won the third 10-3.
The Panthers are fortunate that their best varsity players are seniors, so the cancelled matches shouldn’t have much of an effect on their play, considering the experience they already have.
“We’re fortunate that the top halves of our teams, boys and girls, are seniors,” Jones said. “Last year was the first time in school history that we had qualified for regionals, so they got a taste of what it takes. They have the experience.”
Fortunately, the Panthers are still in non-district play, so their District 19-4A record will not be affected by the cancellations. District play starts next week, though, and Coach Jones is hopeful that the situational drills they run in practice will reduce the negative effects that a lack of game experience can have on younger players.
“For our lower half, juniors, freshmen, sophomores, it’s more than just match play,” Coach Jones said, referring to playing matches against each other in practice. “It’s putting them into situations they know they’ll face — a second serve, a break point, a match point, a volley — something that will put them in a situation where their instincts have to take over. It hurts that we haven’t been able to play that much, but we do match play, we do point play, tons of drills, and have two coaches that can put them in that situation.”
Burnet, Lampasas and Taylor are the only other schools in District 19-4A that have varsity tennis teams. Those four teams will play in a district tournament during the first week of October, where seeding will be decided by each team’s district record. The first seed will face off against the fourth, and the second will face off against the third. The two teams that win those matches will move on to the area tournament, where they will be joined by Caldwell and Smithville.
District 19-4A play kicks off for the Panthers against the Burnet Bulldogs next Thursday, Sept. 8, at Burnet High School. Matches will begin at 4 p.m.