Panther Tennis competes at Llano, San Marcos

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By Lance Catchings

Tennis teams were in action on the road last week against stiff competition.

The junior varsity traveled to Llano Thursday and the varsity traveled to San Marcos Friday. Head Coach Philip Dodd was proud of how both teams competed.

“The junior varsity came back with good results despite having the state champion Fredericksburg junior varsity team at the tournament,” Dodd said. “Most of the finals were either all Fredericksburg or all Liberty Hill. There were seven other schools in attendance but neither team had any trouble with them.”

In junior varsity girls singles, Ava Tolley defeated teammate Abby Gates in the final 8-2. In girls doubles, Madison and Cassidy Sudekum teamed up to dominate the Fredericksburg team 6-2, 6-3 in the final. In mixed doubles, Analysa Caskey and Will Gray lost to Fredericksburg first round, but came back and won the consolation side of the draw. Katie Lively/Blaine Richardson made the semifinals, but fell to Fredericksburg twice to finish in fourth place. Preston took a fourth-place finish and Jon Kiger lost in the consolation final. In boys’ doubles, Dalton Nicholas and Will Snell finished in fourth place.

“Coach Davidson said she was pleased with the effort but stated they tensed up some when facing Fredericksburg,” he said. “We have to understand that we are one of the top teams in the area and will have to compete and beat Fredericksburg if we want to go to state.”

Friday, the varsity team traveled to San Marcos for a two-day five-match guaranteed tournament that was completed in one day due to inclement weather. Twenty teams from around the state attended the tourney from Pasadena to Wharton to Laredo, Uvalde and San Antonio.

“There were three teams there from our region and the rest were 5A and 6A schools,” he said. “We needed to see how we stacked up against Wharton, Devine and La Vernia. For the most part we came out on top in most divisions.”

The seniors led the way at the tournament. Gunnar Ortega and Kennedy Coleman captured the mixed doubles championship. Tyler Franklin and Sophie Sherman finished 13th in the in the 32-team compass draw. Ortega/Coleman defeated Devine before winning the finals over San Marcos 6-2, 6-3.

“Tyler and Sophie did beat both Wharton teams easily so what was a plus for them,” he said. “Fredericksburg will be top two seeds in most events at regionals so everyone is trying to secure the third seed and after this tournament we should have.”

In boys singles, Henry Madison cruised through his first three rounds into the semifinals before losing 3-6, 7-5, 10-7 to Uvalde. He went on to finish in third place.

“Henry was up 5-3 in the second and couldn’t close it out,” he said. “It is still something he and several of our upper classmen deal with. It is mainly psychological and very hard to change, but we are working on it the last month before district.”

Ethan Warrington finished 12th in boys’ singles.

“Ethan has a knee issue at the moment but is working through it,” he said. “He should be 100 percent by the time district rolls around.”

In girls’ singles, Angie Melendy revenged her earlier loss at the Corpus tournament to the Pasadena Dobie player to finish seventh. Sophomore Mackenzie Coleman won the consolation side of the draw.

“Mackenzie has improved probably the most this year,” Dodd said. “She did not make the varsity team at tryouts, but has worked her way up and has a second place and consolation championship at varsity tournaments this season.”

In girls’ doubles, senior Mckenzie Wukasch and junior Lauren Crow finished in third place.

“Fresh off their home tournament championship they ran into an Austin LBJ team that had not dropped a single tournament game until they met the Panthers,” he said. “Lauren and Mackenzie managed four games in the match falling 2-6, 2-6. In the third-place match they destroyed John Jay 8-1.”

Dodd was very pleased overall and said the team took another step closer to its goals.

“It was a great day to be a Panther,” he said. “All the regional teams there will have to give us their votes because of our results so it was a productive day.”

The sub-varsity teams were off this week and the varsity traveled to compete at Brownwood. Liberty Hill is working toward getting better for the district tournament, which they will host April 1-2.

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