Although the Sealy Tigers put up a valiant effort in Monday afternoon’s team tennis bi-district championship in Sealy, the visiting El Campo Ricebirds escaped with a 10-8 win when it was all said and done.
First-year head coach Joni Baxley said she was hoping for a longer postseason but was proud of the effort her squad put in for her inaugural year at the helm of the program.
“They fought hard for every point,” Baxley said. “It was a great experience and I love the team. The kids are awesome, and they make things so much easier.”
Through the doubles matches and first pair of boys’ singles, the team score was tied at four apiece, leaving the outcome up in the air.
Jonah DeLozier and Austin Keeton won 9-7, J.T. Rassette and Carlos Godoy similarly took a 9-7 decision and Cameron and Daniel Eschenburg won, 8-3, to extend a season-long winning streak to get Sealy off on the right foot.
El Campo bounced back, however, and took 8-1 and 8-6 decisions over Abigail Zientek and Shreya Jariwala and Rebecca Kins and Alexis Horelica, respectively.
The mixed doubles pairing of Macey Feland and Norm Juarez dropped an 8-3 match but DeLozier won the first boys’ singles match, 8-6, to take that point back. Keeton then lost, 8-5, to Blaine Green before the rest of the Tiger singles won their matches.
Godoy beat Jayden Rubesh, 8-1, Rassette took an 8-6 win over Gage Rubesh, Havel won 8-2 over Joshua Cerny and Dillon Dornak grabbed an 8-1 win over Owen Lyford to put Sealy in front, 8-4, heading into the girls’ singles matchups.
There, however, the Ricebirds took over and the Lady Tigers fell in straight sets to close the season. Feland fell 8-4 to Jessika Schulze, Kins dropped an 8-2 decision to Rebekah McCord, Zientek lost, 8-0, to Kayleigh Gardner before Horelica fell, 8-3, to Carli Rawlinson.
Jariwala lost 8-2 to Hailey Tupa before Hailey Peters earned a win via a forfeit to round the final score to 10-8 in favor of visiting El Campo who advances to face the Splendora Wildcats who won District 21 and received a bye to the area championship.
Despite the season ending on a not-so-positive note, Coach Baxley took solace in the Tigers’ effort to take the No. 3 seed over a Stafford team that beat them earlier in the year.
“We lost to Stafford in the regular season so the next time we thought it was over, that they already beat us so they’re going to again but we bounced back and beat them in the district tournament to take third place,” she said. “It just goes to show you can’t take anything for granted and anything can happen, so you have to play every point until the end.”
Her squad most certainly did that and a majority of the athletes will transition through the winter before the spring season will pick up around February with some minor subtractions and additions.
“We’ll be losing a few to baseball and we’ll have to share some with basketball, but we’ll have some volleyball players returning as well as a football player, Brendon Beckendorff, who will all join us in the spring. I’m excited to see what these senior leaders do in their final season,” Baxley said.