Would it ever have crossed Steve Latham’s mind back in 1935 that Mason would have added 70 more state championships to his initial singles title? That is exactly what occurred in Austin last Tuesday as Mason added four more titles to up its record number to 71.
Mason took 10 players (more than any other school in Texas) to Austin last week to compete in the 100th year of UIL competition. All ten players returned home with either gold, silver, or bronze.
Bringing home the bronze was the mixed doubles team of Tantha Lange and Dakota Wawrzyniak. The Mason seniors defeated a tough Grady team 6-1,5-6,6-0 in the first round before bowing out to the eventual state champions from Paint Rock 6-1, 6-3. This was the second appearance at state for Paint Rock.
In girls doubles the regional champions, Shayla Estes and Morgan Pilcher earned the silver medals with two wins over the senior team from McLeod 6-1,6-2 and then over a 2009 bronze medalist team from Ft. Hancock 7-6,6-1. The Mason pair had to get adjusted to the slappy style of play by Ft. Hancock, but was able to rally from behind in the tiebreaker to win the set. The second set was dominated by the strong net game of the Cowgirls.
This set up the 12th time (fourth time in a row) that Mason girls have played each other in the state finals. Senior Ellie Blair (2009 singles bronze medalist) teamed with freshman Margaret Lemke to capture Mason’s 29th girl’s state championship. Blair/Lemke defeated Trenton in the first round 6-0,6-1 and then moved on to the semi’s where they took out a tough senior team from McLean 6-2, 6-4. In the finals the first set was won by Blair and Lemke 6-1 as they made very few mistakes. They then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second before Shayla and Morgan came back to win three of the next four games. Ellie and Margaret then was able to finish off the match with the final two games. The finals match simply proved how tough our Mason girls are as both teams had proven they were the top two in the state.
Another exclamation to Mason’s tough girls was seen in the finals as junior and defending champion, Makenzie Mitchell dominated her opponents on her way to her second gold medal. Mak defeated Eldorado’s Brianah Creek 6-0,6-1 in the first round. The semi’s was another blowout as Mitchell defeated Joy Hasty of Sterling City. Hasty tried everything in her arsenal in the first set, but nothing even made a dent on Makenzie’s game as she captured the match 6-1, 6-1. This matched Mitchell against a strong sophomore from Candian, Emily Lusk in the finals. The girls battled back and forth the entire first set with Lusk using a very deceptive game that kept Mak from attacking like she is capable of doing. Once Mak got grooved in on Lusk’s game, it was all over except the celebration as Makenzie won the second set 6-1.
In boys singles Mason sophomore, Matt Banner, also captured his second straight gold medal with another dominating performance. Banner cruised thru Dodd City’s Pat Moore 6-0,6-0 and then lost only two games to a foreign exchange player from Archer City. This set up the fourth meeting between D’Hanis’s Will Lamon and Banner. Banner won the first two meetings straight sets, but split in the finals at regionals. This time Matt executed the gameplan to perfection as he kept Lamon on the defense the entire match in his 6-2,6-3 victory claiming gold.
The final match of the tournament for Mason pitted two rival teams once again. For the second year in a row, Mason played Menard’s Josh Hill and James Kothmann in the finals. Thach Martin (first time state contestant) and Michael Vargas (‘09 champion with Bobby Buist) had no trouble advancing thru the first round as they dominated Chillicothe 6-1,6-2. This put them in a tough semi’s with Frost’s Montgomery and Cassady a new team that incorporated two three time state qualifiers. Mason played aggressive and consistant to take the semi’s 6-3,6-4.
In the finals, Menard took the first set 7-5 with precision serving and returning. We had tried using a "T" formation at regionals that worked well for us, but Menard was ready for it this time and we were having lots of difficulty holding Michael’s serve. Upon Michael’s suggestion earlier in the week, we switched return sides for the state tournament. We had not been able to break either boy the last time we played so we tried something new. This time we were breaking their serve, but we were still having difficulty in holding. We made a slight adjustment in the second set and suddenly, the Menard boys were not able to hit the returns as they wanted. We also did a great job of placing our serves. Now we were holding serve and breaking them. This put us in control and we won the second set 6-3. This set up the deciding set in which both teams were holding serve up to 3-3. At that point we broke Kothmann’s serve and held Thach’s. Then with the help of two doubles, Mason broke for the match and the celebration was on.
It was once again a wonderful experience in Austin. The players and coaches can’t express to the Mason fans how much it means to have the support that we always seem to have. I would also like to thank Amelia Banner who did all our concession work for us all year. Also, thanks to all the local players that have taken time out of their schedules to play our kids during the final three weeks. My finals thanks would go to Coaches Tammi Pinter, Tiffany Ake, as well as Coach Tim Bourke (currently of Marble Falls) and Salah Smith (who worked with our kids all season). These coaches have helped our kids and have been there for them every step of the way. These championships are yours as well as the teams.