By Monty Campbell

The Cove Herald

The 2006-07 Copperas Cove tennis program opened the season in historic proportions as they began their first organized team practice under the lights in an inaugural “Midnight Madness” session.

On May 10, the Dawgs and the booster club officially closed the season as they conducted their annual tennis banquet in the Copperas Cove City Park.

“This is the year we wanted to make history and boy, did we make history,” head coach Paul Talbett said. “Everything is going in the right direction to get better. We set the bar high this year, and are looking to get even farther next year.”

The midnight practice session was just the first of many historic events the tennis team produced this season.

Copperas Cove advanced to the regional tournament in team tennis for the first time in school history and sent 12 of 16 players to the spring regional tournament.

After an informal meet and greet session, the players were finally corralled, and the gathering of around 200 sat down to a barbecue feast, opening the festivities.

Hot dogs and hamburgers were eaten, potato salad digested and a dozen or more desserts were devoured before the presentation of awards began.

The freshmen awards were the first and most simple awards to distribute as there were no male tennis players who performed on the freshmen level. Grabbing that knowledge first-hand coach Arthur Andrade distributed the awards to the freshmen girls.

The Lady Dawgs’ freshmen split the Most Valuable Player award between two deserving players. Brittany Schutz and Michelle Esparza combined to win the top spot among freshmen while Mindy Vela was voted as the Most Improved Freshmen Player.

The junior varsity squad then took center stage behind head coach Wendell Jones, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

“This has been a very intense, supportive group who came together this season,” Jones said, recalling his final season with Copperas Cove. “In the fall, we saw the potential but did not realize it.”

Jason Heeter grabbed the Most Valuable Player award for the boys, while Shannon Edwards and Bazil Griener shared the same award, for the girls.

As Heeter, Edwards and Griener collected the MVP awards, Greg Harrington and Sue Sinn picked up the Coaches Award for being the most dependable player on and off the court.

The Most Valuable Player Award — which was decided upon by the team, coaches and playing record — was awarded to Ashley Freel for the girls and Bengston and David Simmet for the boys.

Jordan Kingery and Tevin Ogo picked up the most improved boys’ players awards, while Heather Pergande and Dani Almli earned that recognition for the girls.

Kingery and Ogo also earned the Newcomer of the Year distinction for the boys, with Tina Thai and Candace Walker receiving the honor, for the girls.

Bengston and Simmet tied for their second award of the evening as they combined forces to share the Coaches Award on the boys side and Stephanie Sublett grabbed that honor, for the girls.

Chris Niswonger and Mats Lueer took home the Couples Intensity Award for the most intense doubles team, for the boys, while Thai and Dana Whitt earned that honor, for the girls.

The 12th Man Award — best teammate, supporter of the team — went to Matt Cranfill and Almli, while the final award, the Iron Dawg Award, was handed out to Niswonger and Bliss and Schutz for working so hard in the weight room.

Contact Monty Campbell at or call (254) 547-9173.

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