COLLEGE STATION — Lampasas earned two third-place medals at the University Interscholastic League State Tennis Tournament on Thursday, placing in Class 4A girls doubles and mixed doubles.
The Badgers and Lady Badgers had three pairs advance to state for the first time in school history.
“It’s the most we’ve ever had,” Lampasas head coach Kenneth Peiser said. “They had the best semester in terms of matches and Region III went good.”
On the drive to Texas A&M’s George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, Peiser reminded his four seniors this was what they’ve been working for throughout their high school careers.
“That’s the speech we had in the car,” he said. “‘You’ve already made it here, and you should just relax and just play now.’
“They made it to the pinnacle by making it to state and some of them have made it twice.”
Jordan Connell, a senior, and junior Makenzie Munoz were in the quarterfinals facing Georgia Rice and Catherine Coe, of Boerne.
Connell and Munoz fell 6-0 in both sets and were eliminated, but for the first year doubles partners, they were proud of all they had achieved this season.
“It feels really accomplishing and rewarding to know that we’re in the top eight teams in the state,” Connell said. “I think that feels successful even though we weren’t able to get out.”
Munoz pointed out that unlike the larger schools, neither she nor Connell have ever had private lessons.
“We just worked hard every day and worked with our coach,” she said, “and that got us here.”
As Connell prepares to graduate, she’s happy to end her high school playing career on her terms.
“When we made it out of regionals,” she said, “it kind of surprised me. I wanted it, but I thought it was a distant thought.
“I was really proud of us for being able to pull it out and get here, and I’m happy to end this way.”
A few courts over, teammates Cassidy Gillis and Nora Lawson were also competing in the quarterfinals against Logan Froebel and Kelsey Newman, of Bellville.
It was a back-and-forth match, but the Lady Badgers took both sets 6-4 to advance to the semifinals.
“Last year, we made it, and we were really nervous to go out there,” Gillis said. “We’ve been here before, and we knew that our competition was going to be tough.
“We had a few nervous moments, but other than that, I think we played pretty great.”
While Gillis and Lawson had to battle back to keep in the match, Peiser went out there with a simple reminder to relax.
He started to notice the girls wanting to stay back, closer to the fence, and reminded them to play closer to the net.
“They started getting nervous, so I wanted them to move up on the other team,” Peiser said.
The victory gave the girls added confidence as they advanced to face the girls doubles from Wills Point later in the afternoon.
As Gillis and Lawson finished their match, senior Garrett McGuire and junior Megan Dwamena faced Jack Johns and Hope Turner, of Wills Point, in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
“It’s our first year playing doubles together, and it feels so awesome making it to state,” McGuire said.
McGuire is no stranger to the state competition after making it last year in boys doubles with Timothy Cavalieri. After Cavalieri graduated, Dwamena offered to play doubles with him.
The two competed over the summer together and had a winning streak, which led to their decision to play as a pair this school season.
Knowing McGuire’s reputation of advancing to state added a little extra pressure for Dwamena, but it also gave her extra motivation.
“I wanted to be able to do well and play with him and make him proud,” she said.
The two went on to win the match against the mixed pairs from Wills Point 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s our first year playing doubles together, and it feels so awesome making it to state,” McGuire said. “There are so many people here, and you see all these familiar faces and the new ones.
“Having seen all this talent is just really inspiring. It’s really great to go out there and win, because they know because you’re there with all the greats.”
The semifinals went a bit different for both pairs.
After losing the first match 6-2, Gillis and Lawson came back to tie the second match and won the tiebreaker 7-4.
As both teams looked to advance to the finals, they took a 10-minute break before Lampasas fell 6-0 to take third place.
Both seniors were happy to medal in their final competition.
“It’s incredibly rewarding after all our hard work,” Gillis said.
As the girls doubles were battling back against Wills Point, McGuire and Dwamena faced the 2017 Class 4A state champions from Fredericksburg.
The mixed doubles pair lost the first match 6-1 and went down 6-0 in the second match to take third place.
“Having three pairs is already the most we’ve ever had which is really good,” Peiser said of those who made it to state, adding that the third place medals are “the highest we ever placed with two teams.”
At the end of the day, all three pairs were proud of their performance as they left it all out on the court because, as McGuire summed it up, for the Badgers and Lady Badgers, “Tennis is life.”