Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Highland Park loaded for run at sixth straight tennis state championship
Highland Park’s team tennis dynasty — five consecutive Class 4A state titles and nine in the last 10 years — shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
“Each year, our goal is to win state,” Scots coach Dan Holden said. “We’re blessed in the Park Cities to have so many great players, and they take pride in performing well every time they are on the court.”
Highland Park returns seven players who participated in a 10-0 victory over San Antonio Alamo Heights in the 2012 state championship match: seniors Connor LaFavre and Hunter Holman and junior Mac McCullough on the boys side; sophomores Elizabeth Porter and Chandler Carter, junior Margo Taylor and senior Darby Strickland for the girls. Porter won the girls state singles title in the spring.
“I’d say balance is our team strength,” said Holden, who has overseen 10 state championship teams at the school. “We also have some talented returnees from last year’s team, as well as some very good young players coming in this fall.”
Tradition is certainly on the Scots’ side. The school has qualified for the state tournament 25 times and has come away with a state title 14 times.
Highland Park begins the season with a streak of 107 consecutive victories in dual matches, spanning five years, but Holden doesn’t accept the notion that all the winning creates pressure.
“They’ve grown up around it and expect it,” the coach said. “It is something we talk about a lot. Our players are willing to put in the work.”
Tournament-tested girls lead Plano West: Perennial Class 5A power Plano West — a state tournament qualifier 12 times, including each of the last three seasons — appears strong again.
The Wolves return seven players from a team that finished 23-3, losing 10-7 to Houston Memorial in the state semifinals.
Wolves coach Morgen Walker said this edition should be stronger on the girls side with five returnees, including its top two, Alahna Reto, a junior, and Seema Prakash, the only senior that figures to crack the starting lineup for the girls or boys.
Juniors Race Collins and Anshul Pandey head the list of returning boys.
“We have a lot of young talent,” said Walker. “The cupboard is not bare.”
OCT. 15 — District certification deadline
OCT. 19 — Area certification deadline
OCT. 25-26 — Regional tournament
NOV. 4-5 — State tournament, College Station