Coach David Cook’s Friendswood Mustangs are seeking redemption when they open the Class 6A team tennis area tournament today at George Ranch in Richmond.
A win against the District 23-6A runners-up would earn the Mustangs a potential rematch with No. 20 state-ranked Clear Creek, the District 24-6A winner, which plays host to Pearland in its area tournament first-rounder.
“We didn’t do very well against Clear Creek or Clear Lake,” Cook said of the recent District 24 round robin season. “But if things go our way, we may do better against one or both of them soon.”
But first things first, and that means knocking off George Ranch.
“We feel pretty good about our chances based on similar matches we have played,” Cook said of the area quarterfinal matchup.
“No matter what, we will need to be ready to play hard against them and anyone else we play the rest of this year to keep up our goal of making an extended playoff run this year,” he added.
Friendswood, the District 24-6A third-place finisher, carries an impressive 13-2 record and No. 25 Texas Tennis Coaches Association ranking into the playoffs.
“We have been focusing on the process instead of the results and trusting the results to come over time,” Cook said. “We begin early, and this year we have wins against seven teams that reached the playoffs in 6A.
“We look to play against the best competition available, and we do some things that are considered outside the box, for example, the weight room, and serve and volley.”
The Mustangs have been led by an array of players, including the boys’ Blake Norris, Johnny Luu, Ethan Bui and Cameron Norris, and the girls’ Nina Gonzalez, Kennedy Kaufman and Mia Gonzalez.
“I feel like we have had the best two to three weeks of practice in the last few days,” Cook said. “I think that will reflect in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, also opening area-round play today will be Texas City, the fourth-place finisher in District 23-5A, at the District 24-5A winner, the Houston Independent School District champion.
“I am confident in my students to play to their best ability,” first-year Stings coach Russell Creel said. “They have been working very hard on their conditioning these past two weeks getting ready for area.”
Texas City, a two-time defending champion before being dethroned by three heartbreaking 10-9 losses to Manvel, Galena Park and Alvin Shadow Creek, was 2-3 in 23-5A.
“(The players) know in each of our losses, it came down to their stamina, and they don’t want this issue to come up again,” Creel said.
· Pearland at Clear Creek
· Friendswood at George Ranch
· Texas City at District 24 winner