Tennis teams take home hardware as spring season begins

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By Lance Catchings

The varsity tennis team opened spring play on Friday in Bastrop, where they faced defending state champion Fredericksburg and sixth-ranked Wimberley, among other 5A and 6A programs.

Seventeen teams competed, but the Panthers stood tall in singles and mixed events.

Lauren Crow was the top finisher in girls’ singles. Crow won her first four matches, defeating a Fredericksburg opponent in the quarterfinals and Liberty Hill teammate Sophie Sherman in the semifinals. She lost in the finals to the mixed doubles champion from Fredericksburg.

“Lauren has learned how to win,” Head Coach Philip Dodd said. “I think her record is now 37-3 on the year, and all of her losses have to been to Fredericksburg.”

Freshman Sofie Sherman and junior Angie Melendy each had good days, as well. They each won their first three matches and lost in the semifinals. They will play each other this week in Liberty Hill for the third-place trophy.

Mackenzie Coleman had a strong showing in girls singles, winning her first round before running up against the number one player from Fredericksburg. Coleman won two games against her, but ultimately lost the match.

In boys’ singles, senior Henry Madison led the charge for Liberty Hill.

“Henry had a tough draw, but survived his first three rounds, including a down 7-3 come-from-behind victory over a Fredericksburg player,” Dodd said. “He ultimately lost to a player from Lehman in the semifinals, and then easily won a match over a Taylor player for third place. Henry has been splitting time with soccer this semester. If he wants to make it back to State in this region, he will have to put a lot of time in on his own to make up lost time on the courts. Our region is the toughest in the state, and if he can get out of it, he could be a state champion.”

Ethan Warrington also competed well for the Panthers. Warrington won his first singles match, then fell in the next round to Hutto. In mixed doubles, previous state qualifiers Kennedy Coleman and Gunnar Ortega battled to a strong third-place finish by defeating Wimberley.

“They are still a work in progress if they want to make it to State,” Dodd said. “Kennedy is another player splitting time with track. It is tough when you want to beat Fredericksburg players that spend hours a day on the courts and to USTA tournaments on the weekends. We have seen what it takes to be a state champion, and it’s up to the players to do the extra. Hopefully they will, and will give themselves a shot in April.”

Tyler Franklin and Mackenzie Wukasch won their first mixed doubles match before falling to Wimberley in the next round.

“They are improving weekly since Mackenzie has been out of volleyball and on the tennis courts more,” Dodd said. “I look for them to make a run at the district title against Gunnar and Kennedy.”

Junior Varsity Tennis
On Thursday, the Liberty Hill junior varsity team traveled to Bastrop and competed against 18 other teams. Brenham, Magnolia, Fredericksburg, Hutto, Columbus and La Grange were all in attendance, among others. Dodd said Eliza Homorodi had a standout performance at the tournament.

“Leading the way for the young Panthers was freshman Eliza Homorodi, who won five matches on the day to capture the girls’ singles championship,” Dodd said. “She did so over a varsity foreign exchange student from Bastrop who had defeated Madison Sudekum in the earlier rounds. Eliza dominated her 8-1. Her only competition all day was against her teammate Abby Gates in the semifinals, and it went to a tie breaker. Abby then rebounded and beat her Cedar Creek opponent for third place.”

Mixed doubles play was also good for the junior varsity Panthers.

“In mixed doubles, Katy Lively paired up with freshman William Snell and lost in the semifinals to the La Grange varsity team,” Dodd said. “They then defeated Smithville for third place. This was Williams’ first time playing as a Panther. He and his family moved from Longview Spring Hill during Christmas. We are happy to have him, and he is making an impact immediately. We need more boys to come out. Will Gray also came in at semester from baseball and paired with Analysa Caskey and won the consolation title. It was a good day to be a Panther. Anytime you are last to leave a tournament and bringing home hardware, it’s a good day.”

Freshman Tennis
On Jan. 22, the freshman tennis team opened the spring season with a tournament in Pflugerville. Dodd said he was pleased with how the freshmen competed.

“We fared well against mainly 5A and 6A opponents,” Dodd said. “Our top finishers were Montgomery Madison and Megan Sims with a second-place finish in girls’ doubles. They defeated Round Rock Westwood in the semifinals before falling to Austin Westlake in the finals.”

Other freshmen competing and winning at least two matches were Preston Lane, Hayden Lane and Jon Kiger in boys’ singles, Yena Sung and Kylie Harlow in girls’ doubles, and Sofie Martin in girls’ singles.

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