The Grapevine tennis team keeps adding to its to-do list, then the Mustangs check them off. Grapevine won the UIL Class 5A team tennis title in the fall, and six players from that squad have advanced to the spring UIL state tournament at Texas A&M.
Grapevine’s Alex Joseph and Miha Valencic will compete in boys doubles, and Isabelle Bergman and Madison Cleff are in girls doubles. The Mustangs also have Octavia Malin and Keenan Rico in mixed doubles.
Quarterfinal and semifinal action is Tuesday, and all the finals are Wednesday.
UIL team tennis was also in College Station last fall. Thanks to that title, Grapevine players are used to the pressure of state-level competition. Valencic, Bergman and Cleff each won singles matches last fall in the team final against Boerne Champion. Joseph and Valencic also won their boys doubles last fall, as did Cleff and Malin in girls doubles.
While Grapevine can enjoy some familiarity with this event, senior Michelle Torres from Arlington Lamar and junior Angel Palacios of Everman are the first players from their schools to play in the UIL state tournament.
A three-time qualifier to regionals, Palacios lost his first-round match as a freshman, then placed third as a sophomore before winning the regional title last month in Lubbock. “He focused and he’s patient,” Everman coach David McCollum said of Palacios, who has a 29-0 record this spring. “He comes from a family of tennis players, but he’s not a country club kid. He’s gotten this though hard work, and a mother and father who support him.” Palacios had an older brother and sister who also played tennis at Everman. “This has never happened at Everman,” McCollum said.
In addition to being Lamar’s first tennis state qualifier, Torres is the first Arlington ISD player to reach state in eight years. Jason Lateko and Carla Cooper of Arlington Bowie reached the 5A (now 6A) mixed doubles semifinals in 2007.
Southlake Carroll’s mixed doubles, Clara Merklin and Matt Landers, seek to become the Dragons’ first tennis champion since Justin Hunter (1998) in singles.