Panther tennis competes at Hawk Tournament in preparation for district play
By Lance Catchings
The Liberty Hill tennis team competed at the Hawk Varsity Tournament last Friday at Hendrickson High School and had one of their strongest showings of the season thus far. Head Tennis Coach Brittni Fausett said she was extremely proud of the way her student-athletes performed.
“We had major success at this past tournament,” Fausett said. “I believe all except two of our kids medaled. Henry Madison won the consolation A draw. Josh Bunting won the consolation B draw. Hannah Crow and McKenzie Wukasch won consolation A draw. Sophie Stafford and Tyler Franklin won third place in B draw and Lauren Crow won the B draw.”
Liberty Hill has competed against larger schools all season, and the Hawk Tournament was no different.
“The tournament had between 10 and 12 teams,” Fausett said. “The great thing about this tournament was that we played almost all 5A and 6A schools, except for Lampasas. This was definitely a larger tournament for us. We played schools like Pflugerville Connally, Hendrickson and Weiss, who is about to be 5A. They were all larger programs, and it was good to see our kids compete as well as they did. That is something I was extremely proud of.”
Constant progression is what coaches and players chase, and Fausett said she has seen that this season.
“I feel like our players have progressed in every tournament they have played,” she said. “The kids continue to get better, even since team tennis in the fall. I always tell them in tournaments to go all out. I tell them to do things they have been working on so they are not afraid to try them in a district match. All of these tournaments are practice for District, Regionals and State. Many of our players have played more relaxed and not as nervous now that we are at the final haul of our schedule. The more matches they play, the better they get.”
Liberty Hill travels to Killeen Thursday for their final tournament before opening district play April 3 and 4. Killeen will have another large tournament pool and the opportunity for the Panthers to sharpen their skills one last time before it counts for real.
“There will be roughly nine teams at the Killeen tournament, and most of them larger schools, as well. All year, we have played larger schools, and I really believe that helps us. Playing larger schools gives us better competition. Some of the tournaments this spring we have not placed, but getting the better competition helps us for district play.”
This year, Liberty Hill will host the District Tennis Tournament, and Fausett said from where she stands, that is an advantage for her team.
“We will host the varsity and junior tournament at Liberty Hill. Lampasas, Taylor, Weiss, Burnet, Llano and Salado will all have to travel to come play here. We start about 9 a.m. and we play through the semis the first day, and the next day, we play the finals. I think playing at home will be a great thing for us,” she said.
Fausett said win, lose or draw, she wants her players to go out and enjoy themselves.
“I want them to go out and give it their best and have fun,” she said. “I want them to enjoy the experience of district play. The goal is always to make it to Regionals and take that next step, but as long as they give it their all, they know that I am happy. We are Liberty Hill and we love to win, but at the end of the day, as long as they competed hard, I am happy.”
Fausett is wrapping up her first full year as Head Coach in Liberty Hill and feels her program is moving in the right direction.
“In doubles play, overall, we have improved a lot,” she said. “We struggled with a few things early, but a lot of kids have become more confident in their game. Tennis is a year-round sport, which is a great thing. Every day at practice and tournaments, we are getting better. I got here last year in January, and they didn’t know me or what to expect with someone new. They have become closer as a team, and I think it’s a big improvement from even last year around this time.”
Fausett is excited for her team and the upcoming District Tournament being hosted at her school. She feels Liberty Hill has been a great place to learn, grow and coach some of what she calls the best kids anywhere.
“As a coach, your main goal is to ensure the kids are having fun and they enjoy the sport,” she said. “Overall, this first year has been a great experience and I have loved every minute of it. I am thankful to be at Liberty Hill, and it’s a great school. The kids are phenomenal and they really work hard. They always put in 110 percent, and I love that. I could not have asked for a better first head coaching experience than in this place with those kids. As a coach, it’s about watching them grow and succeed, even if it’s not in sports.”