Amarillo-area netters bring home gold from UIL state tennis tournament

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The Amarillo High boys and girls doubles tennis teams of Kelton Brown, from left, Wade Bryant, Eleanor Archer and Morgan Rose, won UIL Class 5A state championships in San Antonio on Wednesday. [Provided photo]
On the strength of state titles in Class 5A boys and girls doubles along with Class 4A mixed doubles, the Texas Panhandle’s best in tennis stood tall at the two-day UIL state tournament in San Antonio on Tuesday and Wednesday. Twelve of the 18 teams from the Amarillo-area captured medals with all seven players making their third straight trip to state grabbing a medal.

The greatest ever

Eleanor Archer teamed up with Morgan Rose to capture the girls Class 5A doubles title with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 battle over Hailey Zhang and Milla Dopson of Frisco Liberty. After convincing wins in the quarters and semis, the Lady Sandies duo found themselves playing a team using Australian doubles and two back formations to throw them off balance.

“It was a challenge for them mentally and they answered that challenge” Amarillo High head coach Koby Otto said.”

Adding to their gold medal, the UIL also presented the pair with the sportsmanship award based on their play throughout the tournament.

For Rose, this was her first state title in three tries in the spring. Archer, on the other hand, captured her third straight title and fourth overall gold for Amarillo High. Archer won a team title in the fall plus grabbed gold in mixed doubles and singles to go along with this win. Last year she was the first Amarillo ISD girl to grab a singles title and now an argument can be made that she is the greatest female tennis player in AISD history.

“I don’t think there is any question,” Otto said. “There have been some great players, but no one has touched what Eleanor has done in her career. To play doubles, mixed doubles and singles, three different skill sets a player needs to adapt to, and to do everything seamlessly sets her apart from the rest.”

Back-to-Back

Wade Bryant pulled off his second straight Class 5A boys double title alongside Kelton Brown this year as they beat Shriyan Daggamulli and Aravind Sridhar of Frisco Centennial 7-6 (6), 6-3.

“Kelton came up huge with his serve in this match” Otto said. “We needed him to have a strong serving match and he did. They played their best match of the year.  After getting the first set tiebreak we rolled in the second set and it was just great to watch.”

Bryant, who won the title last year with Taylor Vigil, played with extreme confidence. For Brown, who lost in the quarters two years ago, Otto bragged that Brown loves to play big and made adjustments in the semis to his game against an unorthodox style played by the Mission Sharyland team that helped them get that victory and move into to the finals.

The Hereford mixed doubles team of Brandon Ysaguirre and K’Linda Mason captured the UIL Class 4A state championship in San Antonio on Wednesday. [Provided photo]

Epic Battle

Hereford and West Plains have battled in mixed doubles for titles in the district and regional finals with Scout Adams and Parker Steinman of West Plains taking both matches in split sets. However, in the biggest match of the year, K’Linda Mason and Brandon Ysaguirre of Hereford won the ultimate title in split sets with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 over the Wolves duo. Mason grabbed her second straight title in mixed doubles, this time with a new partner, to cap an amazing career for the hard-hitting Lady Whiteface.  Adams and Steinman still set history as the first state qualifiers in West Plains history as well as the first ever medal winners with their silver medal performance in San Antonio.

Notable Performances

Just like Archer, Rose and Mason, four other players from the Texas Panhandle were making their third straight trip to the state tourney with all four grabbing medals. In Class 5A, Ethan Ruppanner of Tascosa captured his straight bronze in boys’ singles. At the Class 1A level, Carson Heiman of Nazareth teamed with Tanner Wethington in boys’ singles to grab silver. The pair lost an intense match to Menard 7-6 (6), 6-4 Wednesday morning. Ali Friemel of Groom made her first appearance in the state finals but fell to Melina Ramirez of Runge 6-2, 6-4. Friemel now adds silver to her collection of two bronze medals she had won. Finally, Camden Sperry of Happy made the semis for the second straight year but lost to the eventual state champion from Utopia, Luke Leavelle, 6-2, 6-1 to cap a stellar career for the multi-sport Cowboy.

Ella Hester of Randall charged to the Class 4A girls singles final with convincing wins before falling to a very talented Rylee Michna of Taylor, 6-1, 6-0. Hester, who won team gold in the fall, finished off a great season with a silver medal added to her collection.  Her teammates in the fall, Carson Dyess and Aidan Gilbert notched a bronze medal after falling to Kaufman in a thrilling three set match. That same scenario played out for Kynley Craddock and Landrey Posey. The Lady Raider duo lost to Fredericksburg in a third set tiebreaker in the semis to narrowly miss a shot at gold in the finals. A three-set heartbreaker was also the case for Iris Schilderink and Caysen High of Nazareth who fell to the eventual state champs from Irion County in 1A mixed doubles.

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