By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
In its first year of team tennis competition, the Stafford tennis team has advanced to the regional quarterfinals to be held on Oct. 24. The Spartans will play Wharton at Wharton.
Fall tennis is a team event with each competition having 19 matches and the winner is the first team to win 10 matches. There are six singles matches and three doubles matches for both the girls and boys, and a mixed doubles match. Spring tennis is for individuals through singles and doubles competitions.
“This is our first year playing fall team tennis. We are just starting from scratch. Our goal is to build our program and get more practice in,” coach Tim Wood said. “It’s great quality practice for the spring season. I am impressed that we have made it this far, as some of these kids have just picked up a racket last August.”
Wood has been teaching middle school Spanish at Stafford for five years. Four years ago, he became the assistant tennis coach and took over as head coach three years ago. Beginning this spring, he will also take over as middle school tennis coach. Wood played tennis while growing up and in high school, and enjoys playing during practice with his team.
“I love tennis. Being the coach is a great way for me to continue to play,” Wood said. “Stafford is a no-cut team. We are gradually growing. The fall team has 30 players and I expect about 40 players in the spring. Our strategy is simple. If you want to play and have the work ethic to come out and practice every day, you are on the team.”
Coach Wood’s lineup for the girls’ singles is Jasmine Nguyen, Kaitlyn Ly, Annie Dang, Genessis Maya, Sally Huang and Zoe-Ann McKie.
Annie Dang is a freshman who will play in the number 3 singles slot, and the number doubles slot with Ly.
“I started playing my first year in middle school. I was studying too much and needed some fun activities, so I started playing tennis,” Dang said. “My tennis strength is my energy, which I try to use wisely on the court. I just release my stress with tennis.”
She would like to study architecture or pharmacy after high school.
Genessis Maya is a sophomore who plays in the number 4 singles slot, and the number 2 doubles slot with Huang.
“This is my second year of playing tennis. I had played with my father when I was younger, and when I found out we had a tennis team, I decided to join the team,” Maya said.
She likes her English classes and would like to enter the medical field after high school.
McKie and Kyla Calister make up the number 3 girls’ double team.
The boys’ singles lineup is Jackie Yang, Paul Phung, Joseph Lee, Jaeden Bonner, Victor Olea-Radilla and Mark Escudero. The doubles teams are Yang and Phung, Bonner and Escudero, and Olea-Radilla and Ismael Villa.
Villa, a freshman who would like to study mechanical engineering after high school, started playing tennis with his family.
“I have been playing for three years with my brother but this is my first year on the team. I believe my strength is my serve. I like to serve and go to the net.”
If the Spartans win, they will play either Smithville or Lampasas in the regional semifinals on Oct. 26.