“Twelve-peat” was the battle cry and “twelve-peat” it was as the Mason tennis team captured its 12th straight 2A State Team Tennis Championship last Saturday in Lampasas as they defeated a very talented Brock team 11-8. The finals of the state championship was rained out in Austin on March 8th and moved to Saturday.
Brock is a very young and very talented team. We knew going in that they would be much improved over last year’s team (a team Mason defeated in the semi’s 10-4). They added some strong players, but we felt that we were a little stronger due to only losing three seniors last year and simply being one year better.
Going into the match, we felt that we would have to perform well in doubles to be in the match. Up to this point, we haven’t played the best doubles during our team matches. Saturday, our doubles stepped it up a notch. We won the first set in six of the seven doubles matches. To Brock’s credit they came back and won the second set in three of the matches. We had an opportunity to win all seven doubles matches, but Brock was able to pull off two wins.
A doubles victory by our number three team (Luke Gillespie and Slade Townsend) was the thriller doubles match as the boys fought off multiple match points to win the third set tiebreaker 14-12 . Another huge third set win was by our number one team of Price Ruffin and Coby Velez who won 10-3 in a heated breaker.
Mason now lead 5-2 going into the singles. However we quickly looked up and saw that we trailed in seven of the eight singles matches which were on the court. Kirstin Allen was taking care of her match at the number four spot, but everyone else was struggling. We dropped matches at the one and two spots in boys and the one thru three spots in girls. Allen went on to win her match 1,0 and Townsend won his #4 singles 3,2.
This set up probably the best match of the tournament as senior Nick Dyer had won the first set at the three spot 7-5. He dropped the second 2-6 which set up a tiebreaker that everyone knew could possibly determine the outcome of the championships. At that time Monaco Schmidt and Katie Smith had both won their first sets. We had Dyer, Leret Hemphill, and James Durst still on the court.
Dyer’s tiebreaker was one of momentum as Nick jumped off to a 4-1 lead only to see it disappear and find himself trailing by two points in the first to 10 breaker. He battled back to the lead, but the young man from Brock came back once again. Twice Brock had match points, but Nick fought them off. At 9-10 Nick hits a blistering serve that Brock was unable to return and then at 10-10, Nick busts a wide slice for an ace giving him his only match point. That was all it took, Nick won the match on a long second serve.
Now we just needed to win one more match. Monaco Schmidt was on the verge of winning when her opponent took a five minute medical timeout. This was all the time senior Leret Hemphill needed to put the final nail in Brock’s coffin. Leret had won the first set 6-3 and was up in the second when Brock’s number five boy mounted a comeback, but Leret stepped up and played two steady games keeping the pressure on his opponent giving him the final match that Mason needed to take the title. Moments later Schmidt won her match to make the count 11-8.
This was a great win for the kids. It’s tough to have to finish a tournament two weeks after it was scheduled. Having nine seniors on the team proved to be a great advantage as those nine never let the rest lose focus. Those seniors that have swept the championships all four years are Claudia Canfield, Carley Chew, Damian DelToro, Nick Dyer, Leret Hemphill, Caroline Hudson, Traci Jordan, Price Ruffin, and Coby Velez. These seniors were in the first grade when Mason won the first championship that started this streak and are to be commended for their hard work over the last four years.
Mason will now shift full-time to prepare for the UIL individual championships. We will host 31 team this week in the 46th Annual Mason Invitational. The JV division will begin on Thursday and conclude on Saturday while the varsity divisions will be on Friday and Saturday. At this time we are still putting together teams and trying to determine who is going to play what events. District competition will begin on April 7th in Kerrville. This year April will be the tough month as we will compete at district, regional, and state competitions all in April.