Then there was one.
But not once did Friendswood head tennis coach David Cook ever doubt his Mustangs could be that lone Region III survivor.
Friendswood defeated Nederland in the Class 5A team tennis regional quarterfinals on Tuesday, 10-2, earning a berth in Thursday’s 10 a.m. semifinals at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy against Georgetown, a 10-9 quarterfinal winner against Pflugerville Connally.
“There seems to be a lot of positive energy building with each match we get to play,” Cook said.
Two other locals were in the running, as well, but both Ball High and Clear Creek fell short in their quests for their regional semis.
In other Region III-5A action, the Tors lost to Alvin Shadow Creek, 16-3, while the Wildcats played late into the night Tuesday at two different sites, the latter at The Fitness Center at South Shore Harbour in League City, to eventually drop a hard fought 10-4 decision to Humble Kingwood in Region III-6A.
At the same time, Friendswood, the undisputed District 22-5A champion, was dominating Nederland from the first service to the last, winning six of the seven doubles before claiming the win with four clinching singles victories.
The win improved the Mustangs, ranked 14th in the state in Class 5A and No. 3 in Region III, to an impressive 17-3 overall.
“Nederland has a nice team, and their top players are pretty strong,” Cook said. “But our depth is very good, and that makes the big difference. Also, it was big for us to win both No. 1 doubles matches in tough fights.”
In the boys matchup, Race Haas and Noah Smistad teamed up to beat Brandon Do and Tercel Jimenez 7-5, 6-4.
Close by the Lady Mustangs’ Maura Mitchell and Quinn Radtke were soaring to a 6-2, 6-0 win against Grace Rigby and Jayci Wong, upping Friendswood’s advantage to a quick 2-0.
Nina Gonzalez and Frank Lu started off the match with a 6-1, 6-0 romp past Laurel Marroquin and Saahir Dhanani in the mixed doubles.
Now Friendswood finds itself in a showdown with No. 10 state-ranked Georgetown, which also stands at No. 2 in the regional rankings.
“According to state rankings, the teams should be pretty competitive,” Cook said. “But I am not sure how accurate state rankings are.”
The two met in the 2013 regional quarterfinals, with the Mustangs eking out a 10-8 win.
“This will be the first time we have faced each other since then,” Cook said. “At this point, though, all of those players have graduated.
“I am cautiously optimistic about our chances in this match. I think we can win, but I know we are playing a quality opponent. I know our kids are excited about the opportunity.”
In Clear Creek’s heartbreaking loss to Kingwood, the Wildcats were super-tiebreaker wins away from claiming a potential 10-9 verdict in their favor.
“At 9-4 then, everything looked bad,” Clear Creek head coach Derick Geise said. “But then all of a sudden with all the matches on, we were leading five of the six matches left on the courts deep into the second sets. There was still a glimmer of hope.”
That valiant comeback came to a halt when Kingwood won the No. 5 boys singles.
“It was a tough loss,” Geise said. “Our kids were pretty bummed. They really wanted this victory. We knew we had a shot if we could squeeze out at least three doubles victories.”
The Wildcats, however, could only muster two doubles wins, the first coming from Carter Crookston and Brice Farine in the No. 1 boys in a three-set thriller, 4-6, 6-3, 10-5. Then the girls’ No. 3 team of Michaela Clark and Clarissa Valcoviak won 6-3, 7-5.
But the 5-2 deficit was too tough to overcome despite straight-set boys singles wins by Crookston at No. 1 and Griffin Baillargeon at No. 4.
Crookston defeated Dalton Locke 6-2, 6-3, and Baillargeon beat Cooper Brown 6-2, 6-1.
“As the singles play started, we knew we had to be perfect, and once again we started off losing two straight supers,” Geise said. “At that point, we were down 7-2.
“Our team has been so good of late at closing out tiebreakers, but today it did us in. If we pull out one or two of those, it could have been a different story.”
Still, “It was a big accomplishment for this group to make regionals,” Geise added. “I’m happy for our seniors.”
REGION III-5A TEAM TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friendswood vs. Georgetown at Cinco Ranch High School, Katy, 10 a.m.
College Station A&M Consolidated vs. Alvin Shadow Creek at Taylor High School, Katy, 10 a.m.
At Cinco Ranch High School, Katy, Friday, 9 a.m.