FLOWER MOUND — After running the table last fall en route to a District 6-6A championship, the Plano West tennis team nearly did the same on Wednesday at the conference’s annual spring tournament.
The Wolves placed first overall in four of the event’s five divisions, held on the off-campus tennis courts near Marcus High School, and totaled 11 qualifiers for the Region I-6A tournament, scheduled for April 27-28 at the Arlington Tennis Center.
“I felt like coming in, I was pretty confident in us getting at least four,” said Morgen Walker, West head coach. “Obviously with Plano being so strong in boys singles, we knew that would be tough. The rest I felt coming in that we had the best team in those draws. It just comes down to the kids believing in themselves and executing the game plans. It’s about taking care of A, B and C and worrying about D, E and F later.”
The Wolves captured individual championships in girls singles (Natasha Opaciuch), boys doubles (Ethan Scribner and Kishan Kersten), girls doubles (Estefania Hernandez and Janet Pham) and mixed doubles (Utham Koduri and Summer Shannon).
Over two days of play, Hernandez and Pham navigated the girls doubles bracket without dropping a single game — producing four consecutive 6-0, 6-0 decisions — while Opaciuch dropped just two games en route to claiming the top spot in girls singles.
“I’m not saying it’s never happened, but I don’t recall ever seeing that in a district tournament that I’ve been in,” Walker said of the sweep by Hernandez and Pham. “It’s going to take somebody really good to beat them.”
Scribner and Kersten, meanwhile, scored a measure of revenge after besting Coppell’s Matthew Abbey and Vinay Patel in the boys doubles final — a rematch from September 2020 that went the way of the Cowboys.
“We had actually played Matthew and Vinay, partnering for the first time, in the fall and lost that match,” Scribner said. “We had a lot of time to get to know each other on and off that court, and I think that bond really helped us through this match.”
The West duo won Wednesday’s district final in two sets (6-2, 6-4).
“It feels pretty good. It’s definitely a bit of a relief,” Kersten said. “Our goal is getting to state and this is the next step in that journey.”
That relief was evident elsewhere in the tournament. Of the five district finals contested Wednesday, three pit players from the same team against one another. Hernandez and Pham polished off their title win by defeating fellow Lady Wolves Danielle Furman and Prianka Sairam (6-0, 6-0), while the mixed doubles team of Utham Koduri and Summer Shannon topped teammates Gopal Koduri and Elyssa Ducret (6-3, 7-6 (4)).
“When mine are in that scenario, I want them playing their hardest and whatever happens happens,” Walker said. “Nothing else will be accepted. The kids understand that and for any matches where they had to play teammates today, they were out there playing hard.”
Ditto for the boys singles final between Plano teammates Benjamin McDonald and Dmitri Goubin — a marathon match that spanned three hours before Goubin bested McDonald in three sets (5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5)).
“It’s fun to watch. You’re proud of what they’ve done all year, but it’s always a little tough because they’re teammates, good friends and having to fight it out on the court,” said Cliff Lazarine, Plano head coach. “I thought they both played well. Dmitri has really stepped up this spring and Benjamin just got cleared to play last week after an injury, so he’s a little rusty but getting back into form. That match could have gone either way.”
With the top two placers in each bracket qualifying for regionals, McDonald rebounded moments later after besting West’s Kevin Xie (6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3) in the lone playback of the afternoon. Other second-place finishers bound for regional finals include Plano East’s Elsa Syed in girls singles, Coppell’s Abbey and Patel in boys doubles, West’s Furman and Sairam in girls doubles and West’s Ducret and Koduri in mixed doubles.
All eight schools in the district had athletes competing for top four spots in the district on Wednesday. Despite finishing outside the top two, Hebron placed three doubles teams in the top four with Mia Nguyen and Lindsey Peterson defeating teammates Abby Lux and Macie Snyder for third place in girls doubles, plus Rohan Agarwal and Rob Herrera placing fourth in boys doubles.
Marcus had success in singles with Ella Loxley and Zeb Collins placing third and fourth, respectively, in their divisions. Coppell’s Arjun Arunachalam and Lindsay Patton teamed up to take fourth overall in mixed doubles while Lewisville’s Amber Rhodes finished fourth in girls singles, and Flower Mound’s team of Madhav Badithela and Meera Sengottiyan took third in mixed doubles.
Allen cleans up in 5-6A tourney
Like West, Allen replicated its success from the fall with a dominant effort in 5-6A’s district tournament, which concluded Wednesday on the Eagles’ home courts.
Allen exited the event with individual champions in four divisions as well as school records in both qualifying players (11) and medalists (15). That included first-place finishes in boys singles (Tejas Ram), girls singles (Chelsie Son), girls doubles (Ali Goridkov and Tia Gutta) and mixed doubles (Jordan Mitchell and Cole Phillips).
The team of Goridkov and Gutta, plus Ram, had to endure teammate versus teammate finals in their respective championship wins. In girls doubles, three sets were required before Goridkov and Gutta fended off teammates Lori Bryan and Yesmine Keopaseut (6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-2). Ram, meanwhile, got better of teammate Noah Hakim in sets of 6-1, 6-1.
Son made her surge through singles play without dropping a game in three matches.
Averting an Allen sweep was Prosper, whose team of Jett Anderson and Drew John defeated Allen’s Braeden Barnes and Josh Bass to win the boys doubles bracket and qualify for regionals. Prosper also received a third-place effort in girls doubles from Ava Kirkendall and Rachel Rajamoney.
Barnes and Bass will still compete at regionals after winning a playback against teammates Jason Xie and Nadhish Senthil Nathan, while Hakim did the same in boys singles against McKinney’s Jordan Oberbillig.
Oberbillig placed third overall as the Lions’ lone top-four finisher. McKinney Boyd, meanwhile, will be represented at regionals by the team of Erin and Ethan Kittredge after placing second in mixed doubles. The Broncos also received top-four finishes from Ava Patterson in girls singles (fourth) plus Braxton Jett and Emily Fitzpatrick in mixed doubles (fourth).