If all goes as planned, local high school tennis programs could be sending a representative or two to the University Interscholastic League State Championships in College Station next month.
As expected at Monday’s regional coaches seeding meeting, Clear Creek’s Carter Crookston grabbed the No. 1 seed in boys’ singles for Wednesday and Thursday’s Region III-6A Championships at Deer Park High School South.
At the same time, Wildcat teammates Alejandra Lopez and Griffin Baillargeon received the No. 4 seed in the mixed doubles.
Also, in the girls’ singles, Clear Springs’ Alli Schwartz was seeded No. 4 and will face Baytown Sterling’s Brooke Benoit in the first round at 9:45 a.m.
Up in Willis, the Region III-5A qualifying coaches, including Friendswood’s David Cook and Ball High’s Kim LeGate, will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Willis High School to determine the top seeds for their regional meet, also to be held Wednesday and Thursday at Blythe Calfee Tennis Center, starting at 8 a.m.
Crookston, a state doubles finalist last year with Michael Raji, will be challenged in the first round by Humble Kingwood’s Caelum Dang at 8:30 a.m.
“With (Clear Falls’) Reed (Collier) out, Carter really hasn’t played anybody in the draw,” Clear Creek head coach Derick Geise said. “He’s been playing Reed all spring.”
Later, at 9:45 a.m., Lopez and Baillargeon will take on Fort Bend Clements’ top team, Chloe Ku and Gabriel Shu.
“That first round is not really what we had hoped for,” Geise said of Lopez/Baillargeon’s opening matchup. “Both teams will be fairly even. But if we can get by that first match, it sets up pretty good for us. The mixed draw is wide open.”
As for Schwartz, “Alli’s first match is not a given,” Clear Springs head coach Gregg Parker said. “But the draw selection went a lot better than I was expecting.”
Meantime, Friendswood will carry a hefty load into its regional tournament, having qualified nine of 10 entries after a dominating performance at last month’s District 22-5A Championships.
Heading the Mustangs’ hopefuls will be the girls’ doubles team of Maura Mitchell/Quinn Radtke and boys’ tandem of Race Haas/Noah Smistad.
“Quinn and Maura have a legitimate claim to the No. 1 seed with their recent win against Nederland at the Beachcomber (Classic) in March,” Cook said. “I feel pretty strongly that these will be the two top-seeded teams.
“Of course, the score between these two teams was incredibly close, and we were fortunate to come up with the win. But coming up with the win should put us ahead of them since it was direct head-to-head competition.”
In the Beachcomber final, Mitchell and Radkte prevailed 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 10-4.
Cook said Haas and Smistad “should be seeded no less than third, having lost earlier to A&M Consolidated,” noting College Station High has multiple wins over that same A&M Consolidated team.
“All of these three teams appear to be superior to the remaining teams to what I have been able to find so far,” Cook added.
Friendswood has entries in all five draws, including the boys’ and girls’ doubles district runners-up to their teammates, Andrew Litzinger/Frank Lu and Maddie Coburn/Linh Van, respectively.
The other Mustangs competing are: Adric Christensen in the boys’ singles; Mia Gonzalez and Nicole Mbibi in the girls’ singles; and Nina Gonzalez/Josh Grewal and Adri McElwain/Kiertan Patel in the mixed doubles.
“I think the rest of all of our entries have a decent chance of being seeded fourth,” Cook said.
The lone non-Mustang qualifying from 22-5A will be the Tors’ Antoine Bayle, runner-up to Christensen in the boys’ singles.
By UIL rules, Bayle, like the other runners-up, automatically will be matched up in the first round against one of the other seven district’s No. 1 finishers.
The UIL state tournament is set for May 16-17 at Texas A&M University’s George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.