Amarillo-area tennis standouts hope to make their mark at UIL state tournament
Amarillo High sends four doubles team to compete at the UIL Class 5A state tennis tournament Thursday and Friday in San Antonio. [Provided photo]
By Craig Sperry
The University Interscholastic League state tennis tournament begins play at 8 a.m. Thursday, in San Antonio at multiple sites.
The Amarillo-area will be well represented with nine singles players and eight doubles teams looking for gold.
UIL Class 5A
At Northside Tennis Center, San Antonio
Four doubles teams will be looking to make noise for Amarillo High at the state tournament. The Sandie netters strong contingent will be paced by their mixed doubles team of Jackson Harwell and Eleanor Archer.
Harwell made the finals in 2019 with his doubles partner Tauber Short, and he will be looking to turn silver into gold this year. AHS head coach Koby Otto had both boys doubles team qualify led by regional champions Ryan Manchee and Taylor Vigil.
On the girls side, the doubles tandem of Gracie Polster and Morgan Rose, who won the Region 1-5A crown, will be strong bets to medal. Tascosa sophomore Ethan Ruppanner makes his first appearance in the state tourney in hopes of making noise in boys singles. On the other side of the mixed doubles bracket from Harwell/Archer is the Randall duo of Brecklyn McMinn and Carson Dyess.
Hereford sends four players to the UIL Class 4A state tennis tournament Thursday and Friday in San Antonio. [Provided photo]
UIL Class 4A At Annemarie Tennis Center, San Antonio
Hereford captured the UIL Class 4A team tennis championship in the fall, and find themselves in familiar territory again with two singles players and a mixed doubles team serving for more hardware.
All three entries have tough first round draws, but head coach Cody Crouch still likes the chances of his mixed doubles duo of Victoria Betzen and Nicky Vilalovos.
“Fredricksburg in the first round will be really tough,” Crouch said. “Victoria (Betzen) and Nicky (Vilalovos) have been so sharp. They’ve been so good in practice and are motivated to prove themselves after falling to Vernon in the regional finals.”
Bryce Ware of Canyon is looking for his second gold after capturing the doubles title with Asher Melton in 2019.
“The tournament not being played last year has really motivated him” Canyon tennis coach John Gonzalez said. “I think he has a good opportunity to win it this year, but he’s got some tough competition. He’s going to have to play his best.”
Coach Gonzalez is hoping to double dip medals with his girls doubles team of Kelsey Braudt and Aubrey Thomas.
“They work well together,” Gonzales said. “I look forward to them doing great things. Just like Bryce they are motivated to prove something since missing out at a chance last year”
Nazareth sends two doubles teams to the UIL Class 1A state tennis tournament Thursday and Friday in San Antonio. [Provided photo]
UIL Class 1A
at Blossom Tennis Center, San Antonio
Nazareth has dominated doubles play the last three state tournaments having captured five state titles during that time. The Swifts find themselves with two more strong contenders for gold this week.
The seasoned duo of Trent Gerber and Luke Betzen in boys doubles and newcomers Carson Heiman with Harley Gerber in mixed doubles both have a chance to medal this week. Ali Friemel of Groom, as well as Sydni Middleton of Happy both represent the area in girls singles. Sophomore Camden Sperry makes it five of the last six years a boys singles player from Happy has made the state tournament.
Texas Panhandle UIL state qualifiers
Boys Singles: Ethan Ruppanner, So., Tascosa
Boys Doubles: Ryan Manchee, Sr./ Taylor Vigil, So., Amarillo High; Andy Earthmann, Sr./ Kelton Brown, Fr., Amarillo High
Girls Singles: Gracie Polster, Sr.; Morgan Rose, Fr., Amarillo High
Mixed Doubles: Jackson Harwell, Sr./ Eleanor Archer, So., Amarillo High; Carson Dyess, Jr./ Brecklyn McMinn, Sr., Randall
Boys Singles: Bryce Ware, Sr., Canyon; Luis Avila, Jr., Canyon
Girls Singles: K’Linda Mason, So., Hereford
Girls Doubles: Kelsey Braudt, Sr./ Aubrey Thomas, Sr., Canyon
Mixed Doubles: Victoria Betzen, Sr. /Nicky Vilalovos, Jr., Hereford
Boys Singles: Erik Escapita, Jr., Sunray
Boys Singles: Camden Sperry, So., Happy
Boys Doubles: Trent Gerber, Jr./ Luke Betzen, Sr., Nazareth
Girls Singles: Ali Friemel, So., Groom; Sydni Middleton, Jr., Happy
Mixed Doubles: Carson Heiman, So./ Harley Gerber, Fr., Nazareth