ALLEN – Although the seasons have changed, the modus operandi hasn’t for the Allen and Plano West tennis teams dating back to last fall.
The final round of the District 10-5A Tournament on Tuesday morning clarified that notion plenty, as the Eagles and Wolves combined for four of the five district titles up for grabs and advanced seven players apiece to the Region II tourney on Tuesday-Wednesday at the Baylor Tennis Center.
“Allen and Plano West have been the top two teams in the district all year,” said Morgen Walker, West head coach. “We’re both taking seven kids to regionals and I’m happy about it. You always want more, but seven made it through and we’ll spend the rest of the week getting ready for regionals.”
The play of the West and Allen was reflected in the tournament seeding as well, with the two programs comprising 15 of the 20 total seeds. With the top two finishers in each event qualifying for regionals, the on-court results held form in some areas and didn’t in others.
Champions: Tori Simmons (girls singles), Tiffany Hollebeck and Alahna Reto (girls doubles)
Qualifiers: Anshul Pandey and Josh Granberry (boys doubles), Mark Hainey and Seema Prakash (mixed doubles)
The Wolves will have another healthy representation at regionals after advancing players to the finals in four of five events on Tuesday.
Simmons was the only district champion not seeded No. 1 overall to win, as she overcame a nip-and-tuck first set to turn away Allen’s upset-minded No. 4 seed Joyce Tiong (7-6 (6), 6-2).
“Tori is hard to play,” Walker said. “She does things a lot differently than other people who play. She’ll change spins and change pace, which is hard for some people to adjust to. She did a good job doing what she does.”
The same went for Hollebeck and Reto, who made short work of tandems from Plano Senior and Allen before being pushed to the brink by the Lady Eagles’ top doubles unit of Sindhu Ravula and Anne Reyna and prevailing (6-2, 2-6, 6-3).
They won’t be alone in Waco, as Hainey and Prakash out-dueled teammates Andrew Fuller and Julia Chung in the day’s lone playback match.
Champions: Dillon Pineda and Josh McKinney (boys doubles), Dayton Hancock and Nicole Goodman (mixed doubles)
Qualifiers: Joyce Tiong (girls singles), Sindhu Ravula and Anne Reyna (girls doubles)
As was the case in the fall, the Eagles were the Wolves’ shadow for the first leg of the tennis postseason.
After missing regionals by one match last year, Pineda and McKinney enjoyed an emotional district title victory and did so by toppling some familiar foes in Pandey and Granberry (7-6 (5), 6-3).
“This is the seventh time we’ve played them,” McKinney said. “It’s really not about just playing them anymore, it’s about the mental side and making sure we stay focused.”
“It’s about who shows up that day and who can go through their strategy the best,” Pineda said.
Hancock and Goodman didn’t drop a set en route to their title win, and Tiong scored arguably the biggest upset of the tournament by silencing No. 1 seed Rubina Sarwal of West in the semis.
“That was a fantastic matchup and a huge win for [Tiong],” said Justin Quest, Allen head coach. “… She played two extremely tough matches and just didn’t have enough left in the tank to get it done in the finals.”
Champions: Vishal Menon (boys singles)
Qualifiers: Varun Srinivasan (boys singles)
The Panthers occupied the top two seeds in the boys singles draw and fittingly enough, the 10-5A crown came down to a battle of teammates.
“We play almost every week and it’s always a tough battle for me,” Menon said. “There are times we go back and forth. [Srinivasan] is a tough player and I knew it’d be a great match.”
On that day, Menon stayed true to his top-seeded billing and defeated his fellow Panther in straight sets (6-1, 6-3). Fortunately for East, both finalists move on to Waco after a playback was avoided in the third-place match between Allen’s Nick Pena and Derrick Pearson.
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