For the three individuals representing Ennis and Midlothian during the Region II-4A Tennis Tournament, one word could wrap up their time there – experience.

Ennis sophomore Patrick Larson and junior Alexis Wooton and Midlothian sophomore Tanner Hill made their regional singles debuts at the Waranch Tennis Center in Denton last Wednesday.

Lions coach Wyatt Johnson believes Larson and Wooton gained valuable lessons during their time in Denton.

“They did really good, showed up and played really hard,” he said. “They gained tons of experience being their first time here (regional) and all. They learned a whole bunch and now they know where they need to be and where they need to go with their games.”

The District 15-4A champion Larson suffered an opening round defeat to third seeded Grant Adams of Texarkana High. Adams would beat Larson in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0.

Wooton, who finished second at district, would win her opening match beating Jenny Cecoli of Lindale in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. However, her regional run came to an end as Wooton lost her next match to Diana Roy of Frisco Centennial, 6-2, 6-2.

For these tennis players, part of the learning process is dealing with a crucial element of the game every player deals with – nerves.

“It (nerves) is a huge factor for everyone at the tournament,” Johnson said. “The main factor is how everyone deals with it.”

“I think they handled (their nerves) well,” he added about his players’ performances. “They’ve never really had a dose of it before. They were able to fight through it and it’s going to be good for them for next season. They won’t feel that kind of pressure later on.”

Johnson hopes the rest of the boys and girls teams will take notice of the dedication Larson and Wooton put in their games, so more players will make a regional appearance next season.

“Their work ethic and how they are always playing outside of practice is what got Larson and Wooton here,” Johnson said.

“It’s no coincidence they made it to regional.”

For the Panthers’ Hill, he made his first trip to regional a memorable one as he was able to win against Luis Vallecillo of Brownwood, 6-4, 7-5 in his opening round match. Unfortunately, that would be as far as the freshman would advance as Hill would suffer a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Daniel Moser of Texarkana.

Hill, who spent most of the season as a doubles player, was able to have some success at the singles game with a second place finish at district.

“He still has some things to work on; his ground strokes were superb today and he did a great job of coming back from the district loss to win in the first round,” Gibson said.

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