Madison, Coleman, Ortega find success at District, move on to Regionals

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From left, Henry Madison, Gunnar Ortega, and Kennedy Coleman show off their medals after last week’s District Tournament. All three sophomores are returning to Regionals for the second straight year. (Laura Coleman Photo)

From left, Henry Madison, Gunnar Ortega, and Kennedy Coleman show off their medals after last week’s District Tournament. All three sophomores are returning to Regionals for the second straight year. (Laura Coleman Photo)

By KEITH SPARKS

The Panther tennis team competed in the District Tournament at Llano High School last week, where three Panthers played well enough to advance to the Regional Tournament next week in Bryan.

On Wednesday, April 5, McKenzie Wukasch and Hannah Crow played Girls’ Doubles, winning their first match in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, and 6-2, and losing their second in two, 2-6 and 2-6. Kerri Bunting and Paris Durante also played Girls’ Doubles, losing their first match in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, and 2-6.

Henry Madison competed in Boys’ Singles and won both of his matches in two sets, the first 6-0 and 6-0 and the second 6-3 and 6-3. Lauren Crow played Girls’ Singles, losing her first match in two sets, 2-6 and 0-6.

Gunnar Ortega and Kennedy Coleman played Mixed Doubles, winning their first match in three sets, 4-6, 6-0, and 6-1, and losing their second in two sets, 5-7 and 3-6. Tyler Franklin and Amara Burrell played Mixed Doubles, as well, losing their first match in two sets, 0-6 and 4-6.

Josh Bunting and Jesse Henry competed in Boys’ Doubles, winning their first match in two sets, 6-1 and 6-1, and losing their second match in two sets, 0-6 and 0-6. Chase Franklin and Cooper Badon played Boys’ Doubles, as well, winning their first match in two sets, 6-0 and 6-0, and losing their second in two, 0-6 and 7-6(4).

On Thursday, April 6, Ortega and Coleman took second place on the second day of the District Tournament, winning their first match of the day and third of the tournament in two sets, 6-1 and 6-2, and winning their final match in two sets, 6-4 and 6-1 in a playback for second place.

Madison played in the Boys’ Singles district championship on Thursday, winning in two sets, 6-4 and 6-0. Madison won all three of his matches in straight sets.

On April 17 and April 18, Madison, Coleman, and Ortega will look to leave their mark during the Bryan Regional Tournament at Bryan High School.

Coleman, who will be competing in the Regional Tournament for the second straight year, has a newfound confidence this season based on her experience last year. Having already been in that position as a freshman, the pressure was almost nonexistent at the District Tournament, according to Coleman.

“Just learning that I could make it to Regionals helped me for this year, to know that it was possible to get that far,” she said. “Being there (at the Regional Tournament) last year helped a lot this year in just knowing that there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on us. We were just trying to do our best (at the District Tournament) and not necessarily make it to Regionals.”

Last year, Coleman and her Girls’ Doubles partner placed fourth at the Regional Tournament. This year, her goal is simply to play well with the understanding that she’s playing with a new Mixed Doubles partner in Gunnar Ortega.

“This year, for Regionals, I just want to go and play well,” Coleman said. “I’m playing with a new partner this year, and we’re playing Mixed Doubles, instead of Girls’ Doubles. So it’s just the experience that I’m looking for, to go through it again, because it’s different with each of the different types of doubles.”

Ortega, like his other two teammates headed to Regionals, is also a sophomore returning to the tournament for the second time. Last season, he advanced to Regionals in Boys’ Doubles with Madison as his partner. Madison and Ortega placed third in district last season, qualifying for Regionals as alternates.

According to Coleman, the keys for her and Ortega at the Regional Tournament are to play well at the net and to keep their cool, regardless of what happens.

“We just need to play well, make sure we’re playing well at the net, and just doing our best,” she said. “Really, that’s the most important thing is just playing doubles the right way and not freaking out over things.”

Although Madison and Ortega weren’t given the opportunity to play in the Regional Tournament as alternates last season, Madison thinks simply being at Regionals and seeing what he’s up against will give him an advantage this season over those that have never been.

“Just looking at the competition and seeing who’s there, and what I need to look for and how to stay into each match,” Madison said. “I get the advantage over people that haven’t been before, because they don’t have the experience.”

Although he has last year’s experience to look back on, this year is a different animal for Madison. After competing with Ortega in Doubles last season, he’ll be going solo this season in Boys’ Singles, which he says has both its advantages and disadvantages.

“It’s obviously more of an individual competition,” Madison said, “so I have to rely all on myself, and I have to make all the decisions myself. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, because if you’re doing well, you’re going to keep it up, but if you’re doing bad, you have to figure out what to do and keep your head in it.”

The Regional Tournament will begin April 17, at Bryan High School.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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