A return road trip to College Station took an unfortunate detour at Deer Park High School’ south campus for Clear Springs High School’s Aava Azad and Melody Duong on Thursday.
The Chargers’ No. 2-seeded girls doubles team fell one win short of making it back to the University Interscholastic League Class 6A state tournament, losing a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 heartbreaker to Fort Bend Clements’ Krisia Flores and Chloe Ku in the winner-take-second playback match.
Still, “It was fun,” Azad said afterward, proudly donning a third-place bronze medal. “It was an experience we won’t ever forget.”
Azad and Duong had won three times to reach the finals against Cypress Falls’ No. 1-seeded Rylee Braeden and Polina Radchenko, but dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to the eventual champions.
Then when Flores and Ku won their third-place match against Humble Kingwood’s Madison Bezner and Lauren Legg, that forced the do-or-die playback.
“We had our chances,” Clear Springs co-head coach Gregg Parker said after the second loss. “I think that Chloe Ku girl was just so penetrating with her groundstrokes. We also made a lot of mistakes, and they didn’t.”
After the two teams split sets, neither could hold service in the third set until the fifth game when Azad won hers, thanks to a blistering forehand drive down the line on game point.
But Clements was able to break in the ninth game for a 5-4 lead, then served out the match with four straight points, the latter a high volley put-away by Flores.
“(Azad and Duong) had a great season,” Chargers co-head coach Joyce Thomas said. “They lost to two really solid teams today. And it doesn’t get any closer than 6-4 in the third.
“We got four good years out of both of them. Mel was a district champ all four years, making it to regionals each time, and Aava made it three times to regionals. We couldn’t be prouder.”
Earlier, against Braeden and Radchenko, “We didn’t beat ourselves,” Parker said. “They are just that good. Looking back at the whole match, it was more them than us playing bad.”
Two other Clear Creek Independent School District entries reached the tournament’s medal rounds, but only Clear Falls’ Reed Collier was able to walk away with hardware.
Collier, seeded No. 3 in the boys singles, eventually ended up in a playback, as well, where he fell victim to Katy Taylor’s No. 2-seeded Rohit Patil 6-4, 6-3.
Collier first won his third-place match with Richmond George Ranch’s No. 4-seeded Marc Maciel 6-2, 6-4, serving out the match with a forehand winner.
“I’m very proud of Reed,” Clear Falls coach Keller Akin said after the Patil loss. “I think he missed a few opportunities in the first set, but he played well.
“It was a great experience, one he’ll learn from. He’ll be back next year.”
Not as fortunate was the Clear Creek mixed doubles team of No. 4-seeded Carter Crookston and Alejandra Lopez.
The Wildcats’ day ended with no playback after a 6-4, 6-4 loss in the third-place match against Katy Seven Lakes’ No. 2-seeded Sabrina Barboza and Allen Chen.
“In the end, Seven Lakes played better,” Clear Creek coach Derick Geise said. “They put more pressure on us, and as young as we are, they were mentally stronger.
“It was a very good experience for both our players. Carter’s only a freshman and Alejandra’s a sophomore, so the future is bright for both of them.”