The Mason Tennis Team racked up another four championships to bring its total to 75. Highland Park is the closest school to Mason with 38 titles. Mason swept the singles and doubles for the third straight year. No other school in history has accomplished this feat and Mason has now done this six times. Mason had a great first round in the tournament as all six entries won their first rounds sending all to the semi-finals. Matt Banner knocked off a senior from Grady 6-0,6-0. Makenzie Mitchell defeated Hubbard’s, Kristin Smithey, 6-0, 6-2. Traci Jordan and Margaret Lemke defeated Miles 6-1,6-2 while teammates, Kaitlyn Cavness and Amanda Hudson, defeated Chillicothe by the same score. Andy Duarte and Trey Schwertner defeated Big Lake 6-2,6-3 while Mason’s other team of Paden Hemphill and Andrew Willis defeated a strong Wellington team 6-1, 7-6. The semi finals proved to be much tougher for two of the Mason doubles teams. The team of Cavness and Hudson lost to a very strong team from Wink. We didn’t play our best match, but those girls did a great job of running down shots and playing aggressively. Hemphill and Willis lost to another strong team from Poolville in a tough split set match. We dropped the first set 6-3, but came back and won the second 7-5. This set up the decisive third set which Poolville won 6-2. Both of the teams that defeated Mason were teams that had been at the state championships last year. This is a huge advantage as that experience pays huge dividends in those close matches. This set up a new scenario for Mason…four finals matches to be played and all four against other teams. The first matches to go on were the boys and girls singles. Matt took the court against Knippa freshman, Kennan Dishman. This was a repeat of the regional tournament. Banner took control of the match from the beginning with well placed groundstrokes and aggressive net play. Dishman played a great match was not up to the play of Banner. Matt took the match 6-2,6-3 to add to his other two championships and to become the first boy in Mason to ever win three singles titles. Mitchell also added her third singles title with a dominating 6-2,6-2 win over Seymour’s Macie Morris. This title was a little more taxing than the last two as Makenzie woke up during the night with a stomach virus that was still taking its toll minutes before the match. We didn’t know if she was going to make it or not. She’s a pretty tough little girl. Fighting off the nausea throughout the match, Makenzie played on adrenaline as she dominated her junior opponent. This was a gutsy performance. Mitchell would have had a chance for a four year sweep, something on other player in Mason history has ever done, but she blew her knee out as a freshman keeping her off the court that first year. The girls doubles team of Jordan and Lemke were the next to earn gold as they defeated the team from Wink 6-4,6-3. This was a very tight first set with both teams taking momentum and then losing it. Mason trailed 3-4, but held serve and came up with a big break at 4-4. They then served out the first set. Still, Wink didn’t go away. The girls just kept the pressure on the Wildcat team. Margaret struggled some with her forehand, but was able to hit some big winners at big times. Traci played as steady as any freshman I have ever had. She also stepped up and hit two huge overheads at critical times to prove this freshman deserved her gold medal. The last match on the court for 1A was the boys doubles team of Duarte/Schwertner against the veteran Poolville team. Poolville started real quick with a dominating 6-1 set. We played very tentatively, missing numerous returns and doubling a lot. Our nerves were taking its toll. After the two minute break after the first set, the Mason team came out with a new energy. I simply asked the boys if they believed they could win this new match in straight sets. They looked at me and said they could…then they went out to prove it. They took the second set 6-1 in just 18 minutes. Then they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third. With their backs to the wall, Poolville started to fight back bringing the count to 5-3. Mason was down 0-30 on Trey’s serve before Andy hit a huge volley winner and that seemed to relax us and set the tone to take that final game and the championship. This tournament climaxed another great year for Mason. This year we came into the season with only three players that had Austin experience (Banner, Mitchell, and Lemke…all state champions). Next year we will enter the season with six players that have competed at the state championships. This experience should serve us well. We graduate seven seniors this year, but with some solid underclassmen and upcoming freshman, Mason should continue a tradition that was started years and years ago. A special thanks goes to all those that made the trip to Austin to cheer on the Punchers and Cowgirls. This was the first time Mason has had to play the championships without number one Puncher fan, Lee Graham. This didn’t mean that he wasn’t in constant contact with us throughout the tournament. Lee, we all hope you get well soon.