FRIENDSWOOD – When the District 24 tennis coaches in both Class 4A and 5A meet today to determine who will play who at regionals this week, no doubt most will be pleading their case on the doubles side of the court.
Of the 13 local entries that qualified for their respective Region III tournaments, 10 involve doubles teams.
Six of those will be taking part in the Region III-4A Championships at Willis’ Blythe Calfee Tennis Facility on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Friendswood boasting the bulk of the potential state qualifiers.
“It’s going to be harder,” Mustangs coach David Cook said of regionals. “But it’s not like we’re going to be changing anything in three days. We are who we are.”
Friendswood won all three 24-4A doubles titles – boys’, girls’ and mixed – and could be one of the top seeds in each event when the III-4A coaches convene at Willis High School at 6 p.m.
The Mustangs’ best bet will come in the mixed, with one-time state qualifier Joann Karam and new partner Justin Vu teaming up to hopefully continue their winning ways, one that includes a 6-1, 6-0 24-4A finals victory over teammates Paige Chisholm and Jordan Desbrow.
Chisholm and Desbrow also qualified for regionals with their eventual second-place finish.
Friendswood also will have both of its girls’ doubles teams – Brittany Vu/Kaitlyn Vu and LB Labra/Michelle Ngo – playing for state berths.
The Mustangs’ doubles list even includes the boys’ team of Kishan Patel and Imran Siddiqi, which won 24-4A. The two will be joined by Texas City’s Quentin Chavis Jr. and Riley Finn, the district runners-up.
Speaking of the Stings, they will have entries in both singles draws, with Greg Goetschius improving his regional credentials with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) upset finals victory over two-time defending district champion Cody Blanchard of Dawson.
Also headed to regionals will be Texas City teammate Rebecca Fracek, who lost a three-setter in the 24-4A final to Friendswood’s regional-bound Kathryn Dowless, the surprise district winner.
Meantime, the Region III-5A coaches will be meeting at host Deer Park High School, starting at 5:30 p.m., and Clear Creek’s Patrick Marrie will not have any problems promoting his boys’ doubles champions, Ford Cunningham and Ashton Duke, regional semifinalists last year.
This time Cunningham and Duke enter Tuesday’s regionals with an impressive District 24-5A championship, upsetting Clear Lake’s heavily-favored Mason Roberts and Asahi Watanabe in their final, 6-3, 6-4.
“(Cunningham and Ford) look to surpass their semifinal regional appearance from last year,” Marrie said. “I wouldn’t bet against them.”
Five other Wildcats are regional-bound, as well, including the 24-5A mixed doubles champions, Sophie Baillargeon and Dilan Behrle.
“This is their first trip to regionals, and I look for them to do well,” Marrie said of Baillargeon and Behrle.
Add to that Clear Creek teammates Elizabeth Le and Jessi Nifong in girls’ doubles, and Ava Manuel in girls’ singles, each as respective district runners-up.
The local entry list also includes the reigning girls’ doubles champions, Clear Springs’ Melody Duong and Haley Voumard.
“We’re hoping to get (Duong and Voumard) seeded,” Chargers co-head coach Gregg Parker said. “We could be (seeded) four or five. We are very excited to be going to regionals.
“We’re hoping that we can win a few rounds and maybe get an upset later.”
The top two finishers in each event advance to the state tournament in Austin on April 28-29.