Once again, Mason will be carrying a bus load to the state tournament. The biggest difference this year is that the tournament will be in College Station at Texas A&M. This is the first time for the state tournament to venture out of Austin and our kids are very excited about playing in Aggieland. The tournament will be next Monday and Tuesday and will start at 8:00 with boys and girls singles followed by boys and girls doubles at 10:00 and then mixed starting at noon.
Mason entered the regional tournament at A&M Consolidated High School with entries in all divisions, but lost both of our singles entries and one of our mixed teams. Sophomore, Katie Smith, lost first round to Samantha Pena of Bruni. Pena ended the tournament as the bronze medalist. We got the shaft in the draw meeting in girls singles. We felt that Pena should be the three seed and that Katie should be the four or five seed. A young lady from Chilton got the three seed and that threw the entire draw in turmoil. Katie ended being the six seed, but because her district opponent was in the bottom half, she was forced out of a seed spot. She then drew one of the only two players in the tournament that we felt like we would have trouble with. Pena is a big hitter and that is tough to play against in your first appearance at the regional tournament.
Our boys singles player, Senior Kristian Dale, won his first match 2,1 before meeting Granger’s Gunner Gardner (son of Mason’s Greg Gardner). The first set went 6-4, but Gunner started struggling with a chronic knee injury allowing Dale to finish the second set 6-1 and advancing to the semi-finals where he was to play the top seed Mario Garza of Ben Bolt. Dale played very well the first set running the set to a tie-breaker. Garza then took control of the match advancing to the finals. Dale then lost a tight three set match for third place.
Mason also lost our number two mixed doubles team of Nick Dyer and Caroline Hudson in the semi-finals match to the eventual champions, Lyckmann and Rambo of Menard 6-1,6-4. Nick and Caroline played a very good second set against the defending state champions and proved to everyone there that they can play with anyone. After dropping a very loose opening set in the third place match, the team responded with a dominating 6-1 second set. It was probably the best doubles the kids have played all year, but we just couldn’t put two sets together back to back and dropped the third 6-3 to a good team from Thrall.
Advancing to state were the boys doubles team of Price Ruffin and Rio Schmidt. Mason entered the tournament as the top seed and demonstrated why with a 6-1,6-1 first round win over Thorndale. The second round was against two very good players from D’Hanis, a team that should have been the number three seed. We struggled holding serve, but were able to take a 7-6,7-5 win in what was probably the best boys doubles match of the tournament. We then dominated Bremond 6-0, 6-0 in the semi’s before matching up with Kothmann / Kothmann of Menard. The first set in the finals was a well played set by both teams with Mason taking it 6-4. Mason did a better job of controlling the second set and won it 6-2. Menard went on to win a spot to state in a playback with Bremond.
Once again, Mason girls doubles dominated the regional tournament. For the seventh year in a row and the 22nd time, Mason has qualified both of its girls doubles teams to the state tournament.
The team of freshman Kirsten Allen and junior Carley Chew dominated their first two opponents 1,0 and 0,2 and advanced to the semi’s against a strong Knippa team that finished third last year. Chew played with Claudia Canfield last year and split in a playback match with Knippa last year, but this year the Cowgirls beat the Rockcrushers 6-1,6-4 to earn their spot in the finals.
On the other side of the draw, two time defending state champions Traci Jordan and Margaret Lemke lost only two games in their first three rounds to earn their spot and a rematch of district with Kirsten and Carley. The score of the match did not represent the level of play throughout the match. Jordan and Lemke won the match 6-1,6-1 playing almost flawless tennis, but almost every game went to deuce and the level of play was spectacular.
Allen and Chew then had to come back and play a very athletic team from Somerville in the playback for a right to go to state. Dropping the first set 4-6, the Mason duo regained their composure and simply dominated Somerville in every aspect as they won the last two sets, 6-0,6-1.
Mason’s other qualifiers are Claudia Canfield and Coby Velez in Mixed Doubles. Mason was seeded second behind Lyckmann / Rambo and upheld their seed by defeating teams from North Zulch, Rocksprings and Thrall. In each of the last two matches, Mason struggles some with double faults and some tight volleys, but were able to overcome to set up a rematch with Menard. Mason got down quickly to Menard, but showed great composure and resolve as they stretched the match to 6-3,7-5. Taylor and Rylie are tough players and you have to take the match to them. They are not going to give anything away.
We hope to see a great crowd in College Station this year. It is further away, but the tennis should be outstanding.