The A&M Consolidated doubles team of Chad Nguyen and Tory Templin played with the kind of abandon the Tigers had hoped to display against heavily favored Austin Vandegrift in the Class 5A semifinals the UIL state team tennis tournament.
The Tiger duo took chances, ripping shot after shot to win the first set over Vandegrift’s boys doubles team of Zach Delmonico and Chris McKenzie, but that was the only set that Consol won, falling 11-0 under cloudy skies at the Mitchell Tennis Center on Wednesday.
“We ran into a team that was just better than us,” Consol coach Daniel Marshall said. “There’s four teams here. One team we’ve beaten this year, Texas High in the summer. We’ve got two other teams that are the best two teams in Texas and they’ll meet in the finals.”
Vandegrift (20-1) will play Grapevine (18-2) for the 5A championship at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Grapevine beat Texarkana Texas 11-0 to advance.
In 6A, New Braunfels handed Highland Park its first loss of the season 10-7, and Plano West topped previously unbeaten Houston Memorial 10-5. The 6A final begins at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Class 4A will open the title matches Thursday at 8 a.m. with Abilene Wylie, 11-1 winners over Longview Spring Hills, facing Fredericksburg, which defeated Kaufman 11-0.
Against Consol, Vandegrift’s Delmonico and McKenzie, down a break at one point, rallied to win the second set 7-5 and also locked up the tiebreaker.
At their best, though, Nguyen and Templin played brilliantly as a team, taking a 5-2 first-set lead with a dominating performance. Nguyen poached for a winning volley and followed with a strong backhand winner. Templin then blasted a forehand to win a point as the Tigers took control of the set.
“Our thought was that we’re just going to come out swinging, and we were just trying to close and take control of the net in that doubles match,” said Nguyen, a senior. “We made a couple of errors at the end of the second set to let them come back, but they played well in the comeback. Then in the tiebreaker, there were a couple of loose points that didn’t go our way and a couple of lucky shots. It was a close one, and we had fun.”
The Tiger team hit dangerous shots effectively, often racing to the net as they struck the ball. It threw the Viper pair onto their heels, but they recovered nicely in a very competitive second set and took over in the tiebreaker.
Nguyen also played well in his singles match against King Roy. The players were on serve in the first set when the Vipers closed out the match with a clinching 11th victory.
“The kids played well and they fought,” Marshall said. “We were down 7-0 after doubles, and if you watched the singles matches, they were fighting. They didn’t hold back. They didn’t lay down. They fought and that’s what I love.”
It was Consol’s second straight appearance at the state tournament.
“It’s a big honor, a big pleasure to come back here and experience this thing one more time,” Nguyen said.
The Tigers hope it becomes a habit.
“We want to come back and come back and really take care of business,” Marshall said. “One of these years, we are going to win one of these rounds or maybe two. We are young and have some good kids coming up.”
Austin Vandegrift 11
A&M Consolidated 0
Chad Nguyen (A&M Consolidated) vs. King Roy DNF; Tory Templin (Consol) vs. Zach Delmonico DNF; Nick Cusano (Vandegrift) def. Josh Prochaska 6-1, 6-0; Andrew Pham (Consol) vs. Blaine Kanak DNF; Peter Hong (Consol) vs. Chris McKenzie DNF; Arvind Venkatesan (Vandegrift) def. Josh Roselius 6-2, 6-1
Bella Nguyen (Consol) vs. Meghan O’Malley DNF; Gabrielle Cusano (Vandegrift) def. Rachel Tindall 6-0, 6-1; Lily Taylor (Consol) vs. Tyler Duncum DNF; Grace Corrier (Consol) vs. Charli Delmonico DNF; Andrea Stapper (Vandegrift) def. Hannah Tindall 6-1, 6-0; Neha Gopal (Consol) vs. Danielle Cuteri DNF
Zach Delmonico/Chris McKenzie (Vandegrift) def. Chad Nguyen/Tory Templin 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (6); Nick Cusano/Blaine Kanak (Vandegrift) def. Josh Prochaska/Sarab Bains 6-0, 6-2; Adrian Sherwood/Arvind Venkatesan (Vandegrift) def. Andrew Pham/ Peter Hong 6-2, 6-1
Gabrielle Cusano/Meghan O’Malley (Vandegrift) def. Bella Nguyen/Rachel Tindall 6-1, 6-3; Tyler Duncum/Andrea Stapper (Vandegrift) def. Lily Taylor/Neha Gopal 6-3, 6-0; Charli Delmonico/Synclair Larson (Vandegrift) def. Grace Corrier/Hannah Tindall 6-2, 6-3
King Roy/Danielle Cuteri (Vandegrift) def. Ross Villanueva/Kylee Markowsky 6-0, 6-0