By Princess McDowell
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – The Harker Heights tennis team (15-4, 1-0) defeated Ellison in convincing fashion Tuesday in the District 13-5A opener at Harker Heights High School.
The Knights took 18 of 19 matches against the Eagles (7-5, 0-1). Ellison earned its only point of the match late in the day after Chris Smith beat Michael Joseph, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Heights coach Carey Leech said it was key that the team was able to take all seven of the doubles matches.
"We've been struggling in doubles play," he said. "It's a lot better than going 4-3 or 5-2."
Ivory Washington, who's become one of Ellison's key players after winning 22 consecutive matches 11 singles and 11 doubles, fell in both his doubles and singles contests.
Washington pushed Harker Heights' Will Truitt to a second set tiebreaker in the No. 1 boys' singles match. Truitt came to the net often against the undersized Washington, but he handled the challenge, hitting winners and using his speed to chase down balls all over the court. Williams' own mistakes, mostly by unforced errors, would ultimately cost him the match.
Leech pointed to D'Mitri Hobbs as a player who stepped up Tuesday. Hobbs used a strong serve to win both his singles and doubles matches, in which he teamed up with Joseph.
"(He) did a good job," Leech said. "Now if we can get him to slow it down on a few shots."
On the girls' side, Rachel Rogers played well against Naz Hernandez in the No. 1 singles spot, hitting consistent serves that Hernandez had a hard time returning.
Erin Cullinan also had a good day, defeating Sam Martinez in two sets in singles play, and besting her in doubles play with Rogers as a partner. In the singles match, Cullinan also attacked the middle of the court on most returns, but Martinez countered by lofting a few over her head before Cullinan backed off the net.
Leech said he wasn't sure who would win the match because both teams put up identical scores – 10-9 – against Cedar Park on Saturday.
"On paper, I thought that we were going to win, but as a coach you get a little scared sometimes," he said. "If you would have told me that we would win every match, I would have said 'You've got to be kidding me.'"