Cedar Park, Vandegrift tennis teams struggle at state tournament

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HCN_20170525 SPORTS State tennis

 

Of the five matches that LISD team competitor in at the State Tennis Tournament in College Station last week, there was just one victory.

Vandegrift had two teams and one singles competitor at the tournament in College Station last week, while Cedar Park saw one mixed doubles team make it to the tournament. The schools combined to win only one match.

“I’m happy making it there because it’s always a big deal,” Cedar Park head coach Randy Ballenger said. “We were in a tough draw. I thought we played well. The team was playing the toughest teams in the state and they weren’t afraid.” 

The duo of Layne Johnson and Kylee Ramsey went up against a mixed doubles team from Lubbock and lost in straight sets, falling 6-0, 6-0 on Thursday morning. Before this year, the Timberwolves hadn’t made an appliance at the state tournament in the last two seasons. 

Next year’s team will have plenty of fresh faces. Johnson is a senior, but Ramsey is just a sophomore. She will join a team that Ballinger said will need to have some young player step up, and he’s hoping this state appearance will do just that.

“It was a great experience for them and a spark for the whole program,” he said. “We’ve made it to the playoffs as a team the last five years and the future looks great. I have a young team coming back next year. Getting to the next level has inspired the young ones.”

Vandegrift, meanwhile, had more athletes at the tournament and only marginally better results.

The brother-sister mixed doubles team of Zach and Charlie Delmonico won their quarterfinal match 6-1, 6-2 against Sarah Michaelis Shunji Nishitani from Plano before falling 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Maria Herrera and Andres Padilla of Friendswood Clear Brook in the semifinals. 

The Delmonicos beat Herrera and Padilla at the Kemah Boardwalk tournament earlier this season. The Viper duo was also 26-0 on the year before losing to Westlake in the regional final match.

“We knew that was a tough team,” Vandegrift head coach Daniel White said. “They had played them once before. They walked off the court and said it was the toughest team they’ve played all season. It could’ve gone either way.”

This time last season, Gabby Cusano was a state champion in girls’ doubles. This year’s tournament ended much more abruptly.

In singles competition, the senior lost in the quarterfinals on Thursday morning, falling 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to Simran Kortikere to Longview.

“I’m really happy with Gabby’s season and she had some really good wins,” White said. “She faced a really tough match at the state tournament. She just had an off day but still managed to make it a really close match.”

The boys’ doubles team of Nic Cusano and Chris McKenzie was pulled together late in the year. A lineup change put the two together headed into the district and made a somewhat unexpected run all the way to the state tournament. 

They lost 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals to Benjamin Westwick and Anthony Huynh from Houston Memorial.

The Vipers had four entrants in last year’s tournament and every single one advanced to at least the semifinals.

White, in his first year in charge at Vandegrift, said the move up in classification didn’t affect him much but made it harder to get out of the district. All but one girls’ singles competitor that team advanced out of the district tournament moved on through regionals as well. It’s that kind of caliber that makes the state tournament appearances even more impressive.

“This is my first year as a high school coach,” White said. “I’ve been very successful tossup into a program that as this successful with kids that are this motivated. I don’t have to do a lot to get them focused.”

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