The Mason Tennis Team last lost a dual match in 2002. They ran their streak up to 49 straight dual match victories as they posted their 7th straight state team championship last weekend in Austin.
Despite the rains that postponed play until Saturday, Mason was able to live up to its top seed. After drying the courts three times on Friday, play was cancelled for the day and a new format was instituted. In case of in climate weather, the Texas Tennis Coaches Association shortens its format to 2 boys singles, 2 girls singles, 2 doubles of each and one mixed doubles. This makes for nine matches and the first team to win five matches advances.
This is a very scary format as a team with two or three real good players can defeat a team of great depth. You hate for this to happen as team tennis is based on who has the strongest team, not the top individuals. However, we certainly couldn’t argue with the rain. We just had to buckle down and take care of business.
That is exactly what the team did in their first round match with Comfort. The Bobcats are usually of team of a few strong individuals, but this year we simply overpowered them 9-0. Matt Banner, Dakota Wawrzyniak, Makenzie Mitchell, and Cristi Slocum took singles wins losing only two games between all of them. The doubles teams of Bobby Buist / Michael Vargas, Ethan Hudson / Jorge Morales, Ellie Blair / Amanda Henrich, Lauren Keith / Tabitha Zant lost only four games total. The mixed team of Madison Burney and Jared Hudson never lost a game against Comfort.
In the quarter-finals, Mason played White Oak, an East Texas school that just dropped down from 3A. They had a pretty strong team, but Mason again dominated them 7-2. Wins came from Banner and Shayla Estes in singles. Doubles wins were from Matt Harper / Thach Martin, Courtland Hemphill / Wawrzyniak, Denay Baxter / Brittany Estes, and Keith / Zant. Burney and Hudson again dominated the mixed doubles.
This put Mason in the semi’s against another recently 3A drop-down, Kirbyville. Mason lost only one match against this senior laden team as we played our regular line-up with any substitutions. When you get to the semi’s, you are a little leery of pulling those starters. Normally you play the doubles first which allows you an opportunity to see your opponents and determine whether or not you feel you can sub. This format didn’t offer that opportunity.
The finals match was a repeat of last year’s final against Reagan County. The Owls were coming off a 5-4 win over Wall in the semi’s, but their hopes of knocking off Mason were quickly doused as Mason took a commanding 6-1 lead after doubles. This match was played under the normal format in which a team must win 10 matches.
Doubles wins were taken by Buist/Vargas, Banner/Wawrzyniak, Baxter/B.Estes, Blair/Henrich, Burney/Mitchell with a mixed victory by S.Estes/Hudson. Singles wins were from Buist, Banner, Vargas, Gabe Gonzales, Wawyzyniak, B.Estes, Baxter, Mitchell, Slocum, Keith, and Zant.
These kids did such a great job. It is tough to sit around all day and not play and just have the pressure continue to build, but they handled it like true champions. They seemed to perform better with every match and never showed signs of the pressure. Anytime you have a streak going like the ones these kids have, there is pressure. They walked on the court very confident and took care of business. We were fortunate to have 11 seniors that have been under the gun before and they led like the true champions they are.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those parents and administrators that made the journey to Austin and braved the cold and wetness. Your support is appreciated more than you ever know. I would also like to thank Emily Ruiz our manager who kept up with all the paperwork and put all the matches on. She takes such a burden off the coaches. Lastly, I’d like to thank Coach Tim Bourke for his work and expertise. He’s one the top coaches in the area and to have him teaching our kids is more than any player, parent, or coach can hope for. We couldn’t have pulled this off without him.
Now, Mason starts its preparation for UIL individual tennis. Again this should be a very tough district for UIL as there are 13 players in our district that have previously been to the state championships. The defending state boys and girls state champions are back from Menard, the # 2 team in the state in girls doubles is back from Nueces Canyon and qualifiers in boys singles and mixed doubles are back from Menard and Sabinal respectively. Mason returns Bobby Buist, Michael Vargas, Amanda Henrich, Brittany Estes (3rd at state girls singles) Shayla Estes (state runner-up in mixed doubles), and Denay Baxter (state doubles champion in 2A). So the team has lots of preparation to do to prepare itself for the mini-state tournament that will be held on Monday, April 13th.