Going into a normal season, Coppell team tennis coach Rich Foster would have been given three days worth of practice time to prepare for his squad for their first match of the season and at least a few more weeks to settle in before district play got underway.
But this is 2020.
Not only was Coppell under stricter county health guidelines than every other team in District 6-6A – Lewisville ISD and Plano ISD schools had one more month to practice together during the summer because Denton and Colin counties’ health departments allowed them to conduct in-person workouts – but had only one match to prepare for the start of district play.
Despite the county health order and the start of the season being delayed by one month, Coppell, ranked No. 12 in Class 6A and No. 4 in Region I by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association, has gotten off to a 4-2 start with wins over Plano (16-3), Tyler Legacy (15-4), Longview (15-4) and Flower Mound Marcus (15-4).
Coppell’s only two losses have come against two teams that made the state tournament a year ago: No. 3 Plano West (13-6) and No. 9 Southlake Carroll (11-8).
In the Sept. 18 season opener against Carroll, Coppell’s boys won seven matches and added a victory in mixed doubles, but the Dragons swept the girls competition.
Southlake won three matches via the third-set tiebreaker.
The Cowboys received wins from Matthew Abbey and Vinay Patel (7-6 (4), 6-4) at No. 1 doubles, Cason Cole and Atharva Nijasure (7-6 (3), 6-3) at No. 3 doubles, Abbey at No. 1 singles (6-1, 6-2), Patel at No. 3 singles (6-4, 6-1), Nijasure at No. 4 singles (6-1, 6-2), Arjun Arunachalam at No. 5 singles (6-3, 7-5) Cole at No. 6 singles (6-2, 6-4) and from Arunachalam and Lindsay Patton at No. 1 mixed doubles (6-1, 6-3).
“I felt really good about the way that our players prepared for a month,” said Rich Foster, Coppell head tennis coach. “(Carroll) was a little more seasoned than we were because we were their third opponent of the season and they were our first opponent. We had our chances in three third-set tiebreakers that we could have pulled out. If we pull out two of those, we would have been the victor. But I felt good for it being our first match.”
Coppell’s girls had three varsity spots to fill from last year’s team, while Foster said the boys team has a strong core returning.
Perhaps the biggest void the Cowgirls needed to fill was at No. 1 singles, which had been occupied by Aishwarya Kannan. But, she is now playing tennis collegiately for the University of Texas at Dallas.
Patton has ascended to the top spot for the Cowgirls. She took West’s top singles player, Estefania Hernandez, to the limit during their match on Sept. 25. Hernandez won in three sets (5-7, 6-2, 11-9). However, Foster said he liked the competitive spirit that Patton showed.
“She's stepped into that No. 1 role and played phenomenally,” Foster said. “She's done an awesome job.”
Coppell held a 4-3 lead at the conclusion of doubles competition but West won 10 of the 12 matches in singles play to rally for the win.
Coppell’s most recent outing occurred Sept. 29 against Marcus. The Cowboys didn’t lose a match. Abbey, Kunal Seetha, Patel, Nijasure, Arunachalam and Cole all won in straight sets in singles play. Patton, Lakshana Parasuraman and Gabrielle Tian earned victories for the Cowgirls. Tian overcame a loss in the second set to defeat Megan McIntyre at No. 6 singles (6-3, 4-6, 10-8).
“Almost every match that we've played this year, on the girls' side, we've been out-rated on (Universal Tennis Rating) system, and our girls have stepped up in a big way and played well,” Foster said.