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January 20, 2020

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Embracing the Culture - A Team Tennis Season Review

October 30, 2017

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Tennis preview: Defending champs Grapevine hopes gamble pays off, plus area players to watch


Breaking up a boys state championship doubles team as well as a state qualifying girls duo is not a call that Grapevine tennis coach Ryan Gillen makes without forethought.


"We want to do the things that help us advance the furthest,'' Gillen said. "And we don't make those decisions lightly.''


Consideration is given to the wishes of upperclassmen.


Alex Joseph, a member of the Class 5A doubles state championship team, wanted to specialize singles in his final high school season.


Joseph's partner last year, Miha Valencic, desired to play doubles in his senior year with his twin brother Tine.


Gillen was accommodating on both counts.


The doubles tandem of Isabelle Bergman and Madison Cleff also reached the state tournament last year as juniors. The partnership will change with Cleff being paired with her freshman sister Reilly while Bergman will be partnered by Raillane Kamdem, a junior.


Grapevine's run of success on the courts in Gillen's 15 months as head coach inspires confidence among his players. He came aboard from Wichita Falls Rider 15 months ago when longtime Mustangs coach Angel Martinez accepted the girls coaching position at Texas Wesleyan.


With Gillen in charge, Grapevine won its second consecutive Class 5A state team tennis title in the fall. The program reached the team tennis state tournament only one other previous season, in 1986.

Last spring, Grapevine advanced three doubles teams to the state tournament with two of them winning titles. The mixed doubles tandem of Octavia Malin and Keenan Rico graduated.

Strong doubles play is a key element to Grapevine's recent success.


"We spend a ton of practice time on playing doubles the right way,'' said Gillen, who notes that most juniors concentrate on their singles rankings. "In the fall, probably 85 percent of our practice is devoted to doubles.''


All 12 of the Grapevine courts are teaming with activity these days.


"For me it is a case of a perfect storm, being in the right place at the right time,'' Gillen said. "Our current senior class came up from middle school together. We have great depth. With both boys and girls, one through twelve are fantastic players.''


April 13: UIL district certification deadline.

April 11-13:TAPPS state tournament.

April 18-20: UIL regional tournaments.

May 16-17: UIL state tournament.


Chandler Carter-Highland Park-Sr.-Wake Forest signee won singles state title as sophomore, doubles as a freshman and junior.

Samantha Hayward-Lovejoy-So.-Reached Class 5A doubles semifinal a year ago.

Tiffany Hollebeck-Plano West-Sr.-Southern Illinois Edwardsville signee was a Class 6A doubles state champ two years ago and a finalist in 2015.

Emily Kim-Plano West-Jr.-Class 6A doubles state finalist last spring.

Camilla Pujol-Frisco Liberty-Jr.-Class 5A singles state qualifier last year.


Truman Coe-FM Marcus-Sr.-Class 6A boys doubles state qualifier last spring.

Alex Joseph-Grapevine-Sr.-St. Mary's pledge, reigning Class 5A state doubles champ concentrating on singles this spring.

Bradley Loftis-Madison-Jr.-Twice a state finalist, bidding to become the first Dallas ISD male to capture a state title since 1929.

Phillip Quinn-Highland Park-So.-Reached 6A state mixed doubles final as a freshman.

Miha Valencic-Grapevine-Sr.-Took gold in 5A state doubles last spring, will be paired with his twin brother this season.

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