Westwood sophomore Siddhant Pandit went to tennis coach Travis Dalrymple earlier this season and voluntarily gave up his starting spot in doubles because he believed it was better for the team.
The Warriors and their selfless attitude capped off a perfect season and won the first team tennis title in school history, beating defending state champion Houston Memorial 10-7 in the final last week at Texas A&M.
“That’s what we had this year, people were looking out for the team and not themselves,” Dalrymple said. “That’s why we became state champions.”
This was the second time Westwood has advanced to the state tournament, the last time being when Dalrymple was a sophomore in 1997. There were a couple of his former teammates watching the finals play out in College Station last week.
“It was an absolutely incredible season and I still can’t believe it actually happened,” he said. “We’ve always had talent and we’ve always been the hardest working team. This year, the kids just kids just kept raising their game to another level. I can’t really explain how proud I am.”
Westwood made quick work of Amarillo Tascosa in the semifinals, winning 10-3 after sweeping all six girls’ singles matches and winning two of three matches in boys’ doubles and boys’ singles.
The Warriors led 5-2 after the doubles matches in the finals against Memorial, winning two girls’ matches, two boys’ matches and the mixed doubles match.
Westwood’s No. 1 boys’ singles Gaurav Singh beat Taylor Stafford 6-2, 6-1, No. 3 Mohanad Elchouemi beat Graham Abaoag 7-5, 6-2 and No. 4 Daniel Antov downed Yann Zigman 6-3, 6-2.
No. 1 girls’ singles Kiana Graham beat Drew Morris (Houston Memorial) 6-2, 7-6 (3) and No. 3 Jessica Lu beat Natalie Hur (Houston Memorial) 6-1, 2-6, 10-6 to help clinch the state title.
“We were definitely the underdogs and my team just wanted it more,” Dalrymple said. “They played to a level I didn’t know they had in them. Everything clicked and they played perfectly. It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”
Dalrymple said there have been so many people from Westwood and the surrounding community to reach out to him and the team. He was at a concert over the weekend and a random person walked up and congratulated him on the title.
The Warriors were ranked No. 3 by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association entering the state tournament.
Lake Travis, which was ranked No. 4, also advanced to the state tournament, where it lost to Houston Memorial in the semifinals.
Central Texas is one of the strongest areas of the state for tennis, with four of the Top 10 coming from the area. Lake Travis and Vandegrift have made multiple appearances at the state tournament in the last six years.
Dalrymple said there are a lot of really good pros coming to the area and teaching the sport at a high level.
The Warriors have taken advantage.
“It’s fun that the kids are getting recognized for all the hard work they’ve put in over the years,” Dalrymple said. “We’ve had some matches this year where we didn’t play great, but we still won the matches. We played the best in the state, and the kids really stepped their games up.”