LHHS Tennis treks to Corpus Christi Spring Fling
By Lance Catchings
The Liberty Hill varsity tennis team competed at the annual Corpus Christi Spring Fling Invitational Tennis Tournament Feb. 15-16.
The Panthers finished fifth in team standings among a host of strong tennis programs from class 5A and 6A that made the trip to Corpus Christi from across the state of Texas. C.C. Veterans Memorial, Laredo United, McAllen Nikki Rowe, Tuloso-Midway, Calallen, Flour Bluff, Gregory-Portland, San Marcos, Smithson Valley, Brackenridge, Wharton, London, King, Moody, Miller, Kingsville and Lehman were all in attendance at the tournament.
“It was the toughest tournament we will play all spring long and we competed well,” Head Coach Philip Dodd said. “We still need to learn to close matches out. In a couple matches, we were up a set and ahead in the second set and dropped the match. Hopefully, they will get that figured out before district and regionals if we want a shot at the State Tournament.”
Top finishers for the Panthers were Mackenzie Coleman and McKenzie Wukasch, who finished third in girls’ doubles, Henry Madison, who finished fifth in boys’ singles, Kennedy Coleman and Gunnar Ortega, who finished ninth in mixed doubles, and Tyler Franklin and Sophie Sherman, who finished 10th in mixed doubles.
In girls’ singles, Angie Melendy finished 13th and Eliza Homorodi finished 14th. Avery Hatfield and Lorelei Fay took 14th in girls’ doubles, and Zach Kizer and Blaine Richardson finished 16th in boys’ doubles. Colin Garner and Ethan Wukasch finished 24th in boys’ doubles. Ethan Warrington paired up with a girl from London to finish 23rd in mixed doubles, as well.
The four-hour trip from Liberty Hill to Corpus Christi not only served as an opportunity for the Panthers to improve, but it had people talking about the Panther tennis program, too.
“Amazingly, all of our players enjoyed the tough competition,” Dodd said. “The tournament was broken up into two draws of 32. One was a championship draw and the other a tournament draw. All our players were in the championship draw and played five matches. This tournament was definitely a step in the right direction for us. We showed we can compete with teams from around the state. Everyone was asking, ‘Who and where is Liberty Hill?’”
Dodd hopes to make the Corpus Christi Spring Fling, or another long-distance tournament, a regular competition for the Panthers.
“I hope it will become an annual event for us,” he said. “If we need to mix it up, maybe next time we could do Houston or Dallas.”
The Liberty Hill community takes a lot of pride in its athletics, and Dodd wants the tennis program and the families involved with it to be no different. Trips like this one are a step in the right direction as it forces the tennis players and their families to spend more time together.
“The team is closer and is proud to know we are one of the better teams in the state and will strive to continue to be,” Dodd said. “Several parents also made the trip down to support. The team went on a walk along the seashore for dinner the first night. We also had dinner at Pier 99 next to the U.S.S. Lexington. Other than that, it was all tennis.”
Wednesday and Thursday, the junior varsity and varsity tennis teams hosted a tournament early due to the possibility of bad weather on Friday. Teams from Wimberley, San Marcos, Smithville, Gatesville, Hutto, Lockhart, Bastrop, Marble Falls and Burnet were in attendance. Tournament play was held at the Burnet High School tennis courts, as well as the Liberty Hill High School tennis courts.