FLOWER MOUND — For just the second time this season, the Plano West tennis team faced a deficit as it took the court for singles play.
Head coach Morgen Walker credited Southlake Carroll’s role in that, as the Dragons came through on several three-set tiebreakers to put the Wolves in unfamiliar territory in Tuesday’s Region I-6A final, held at Marcus.
But even then, with a trip to the Class 6A state semifinals hanging in the balance, West remained unfazed.
The Wolves won seven consecutive singles matches against the Dragons, all in straight sets, to surge ahead and take a 10-4 victory to advance to the penultimate round of the UIL playoffs. West will return to the courts at 11 a.m. Saturday from Corsicana High School against The Woodlands.
“They understood the importance of what was going on and how they needed to come out focused in singles. To their credit, they did it,” Walker said. “They didn’t waste a lot of time and jumped out to big leads in several singles matches. We’re glad to get this one behind us and be one step closer to where we want to get. We’re regional champions and looking forward to a good match Saturday.”
The Wolves left nothing to chance once singles action got underway. Of the seven matches that went final, which included 14 total sets played, West won by scores of 6-0 or 6-1 in nine sets.
The reigning 6A state runners-up split their arsenal between four wins in girls singles and three wins in boys singles. For the latter, sophomore Kishan Kersten (6-0, 6-2), junior Purushotham Koduri (6-0, 6-3) and freshman Gopal Koduri (6-3, 6-0) all found the win column, while junior Natasha Opaciuch (6-0, 6-1), senior Estefania Hernandez (6-3, 6-2), senior Janet Pham (6-0, 6-0) and freshman Cody Huang (6-1, 6-0) did the same for the Lady Wolves.
“We had done a pretty good job of staying focused the last several weeks,” Walker said. “They’ve stayed focused on the job at hand, so it was a little out of character with some of what we did in doubles, but some of that had to do with Carroll. They made us have to earn it tonight, and credit to the kids for getting after it in singles.”
Walker was pleased with his team’s response despite trailing Carroll after doubles, 4-3. Emotions ran high early into the evening, as the Wolves and Dragons played four doubles matches that required a three-set tiebreaker. Three of those bouts were won by Carroll, including on Nos. 1 and 2 boys lines and the No. 3 girls line. West sophomore Anirudh Reddy and freshman Kevin Xie battled back from a first-set loss to cruise past Carroll’s Garrett Lowe and Ty Carnahan (4-6, 6-1, 10-0) on the No. 3 boys line.
The Wolves picked up additional doubles wins behind Hernandez and Pham (6-3, 6-3), as well as Opaciuch and senior Elyssa Ducret (6-1, 6-1).
“I wasn’t really happy with doubles overall. We don’t want to be coming out behind like that,” Walker said. “We didn’t play our best doubles, but at the same time, Southlake had a lot to do with that. They came out, played hard and put us in some situations we didn’t handle very well.”
The Wolves, competing the state semifinals for the 18th time in program history, look to shore those shortcomings up in advance of Saturday’s match against The Woodlands, ranked No. 6 in the state by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association. The Highlanders were dominant in their run through Region II, defeating their five playoff opponents by a combined score of 63-1. The lone match lost came in the regional finals in a 10-1 blowout of Klein Cain.
“I haven’t seen them yet this year. I saw them a little last year, but at this level, there aren’t a whole lot of secrets,” Walker said. “The kids all know each other, so it’s just a matter of being ready to play Saturday and hopefully doing enough to take care of that.”
The West-The Woodlands winner will meet the victor of the other 6A semifinal, contested between top-ranked Round Rock Westwood and either Houston Memorial or Katy Tompkins, at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Texas A&M for the 6A state final.