The rain couldn’t put a dampener on Mason’s 11th straight State Team Tennis title run. Team Tennis has been sponsored by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association for 32 years. Mason has now captured 22 of those state championships.
Mason entered the state tournament as the number two team from Region IV after losing 11-8 to Wall last week at regionals. We were very disappointed at our performance at regionals, but the kids had a great week of workouts and stayed focused. They knew we had to play our best to get a chance to avenge that loss.
Brownfield was Mason’s first opponent. With Brownfield having just dropped down from 3A and having just won Region I, we knew we had a tough opening match. With rain in the forcast and mist in the air, Mason quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the weather shut down matches for 6 ½ hours. When there was a break in the rain, the kids quickly dried the courts and ran off four quick singles matches to secure an 11-0 victory.
The rain delay forced the next round to be a UIL format. This means that players only play singles or doubles. This format can be real scary as it only takes five matches to win the dual and if a team has two or three real solid players they can win a dual match over a team that would otherwise dominate them. Mason played East Bernard (champion of Region 6) in this round. Mason quickly disposed of the solid Brahma’s 8-1 advancing them to the semi’s.
The semi-final match was a rematch of last year’s state championship match as Brock had dominated all its opponents to that point. Mason jumped off to a 5-2 lead in doubles and never really looked back. Many of the boy’s matches were close, but the girls dominated losing only nine games in six singles matches to pace Mason to a 15-3 victory and move Mason back into the finals against the team they had wanted to play…Wall.
Our kids just seemed focus from the beginning. They knew Wall was not going to roll over and they would have to work for every point of every match. Work they did from the very onset. Mason won the first set in all but one of the doubles matches which took us to a 5-2 lead after the doubles. A big match was at the #2 boys doubles match where Leret Hemphill and Seth Hudson avenged a loss from the regional tournament .
We knew that the dual match was in no way secured as singles was Wall’s strong suit. To make matters worse Mason’s top two girls were not at their peak as Senior Margaret Lemke had pulled a hamstring earlier in the day and it had tightened up to a point she didn’t know if she could play singles or not. Traci Jordan had missed workouts all week as well as all the Friday matches with the flu. Their 7-5, 6-2 doubles match had taken a lot out of both of them. Both girls stepped up and gutted out big wins that helped set the tempo for all the singles. Carley Chew also had a big win as she defeated the young lady that had beaten her at the regional tournament.
More great singles matches were played by Rio Schmidt who defeated a young man that had beaten him at regionals. Coby Velez, Carley Chew, and Kirsten Allen all added singles wins to complete the win at 10-4. This really showed what these kids are capable of doing. To turn around a 11-8 defeat to a 10-4 victory of a tough opponent in the state finals is quite an accomplishment. One of the best parts of the dual was that Mason was ahead in all four of the matches that were still on the court when the dual ended.
Mason was led by Seniors Rio Schmidt (who won the deciding match) and Margaret Lemke who along with Juniors Coby Velez, Traci Jordan, Carley Chew, Leret Hemphill, Claudia Canfield, and Freshman Kirsten Allen who were all undefeated in singles and doubles throughout the entire tournament.
The team wanted to thank all the loyal fans that stuck out the cold wet weather to offer their support for the Punchers and Cowgirls.
The team now embarks on the next half of the season as they start their preparation for individual UIL competition. They will take this week off and then play in the Fredericksburg Invitational on March 21-23 followed by the Mason Invitational on Easter weekend. District will follow on April 8th and 9th.