DENTON – Two players that had placed second in their district weeks ago were able to stave off defeat in the first round during the Region II-4A Tennis Tournament at the Waranch Tennis Center Wednesday.
Ennis’ Alexis Wotton and Midlothian’s Tanner Hill beat unseeded players in morning first round matches that only went two sets.
District 15-4A champion Patrick Larson lost earlier in the morning to a seeded player.
Their performances were preceded by a Tuesday meeting between all coaches, including Midlothian’s Brady Gibson and Ennis’ Keith Howard, who helped to determined which players were going to be seeded one through six.
In every case, the top seeds were district champions and had played superbly all year, winning various tournaments with their schools.
The rest of the regional finalists had their names drawn to face those top six seeds in each of the boys’ and girls’ categories. In some cases, like Wotton and Hill, they didn’t face top seeds until the second round.
As fate would have it, Larson, just a sophomore, did in third-seeded Grant Adams of Texarkana Texas High.
Larson had difficulties trying to match up against Adams and was defeated, 6-1, 6-0.
“I competed against a very good tennis player and a lot of it also, for me, was nerves; I hadn’t competed in regional at all,” Larson said. “I hadn’t been in tough matches and the only way to learn from something like that is to lose.”
Larson went through the same scenario a year ago when he was defeated early in the district tournament only to return a year later to earn champion status.
Larson hopes he can repeat some of that magic.
Ennis’ other regional representative, Wotton, who placed second in district behind Camara Davis, of Arlington Seguin, calmed her nerves as much she could and came out with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Jenny Cecoli of Lindale.
“You get nervous playing in first round matches in district and regional,” Wotton said. “Plus, this girl was a scrapper and she played hard for every point but coach (Keith Howard) kept telling me to do the things that got me here.”
This was Wotton’s first regional appearance.
“It was harder than I expected because everything you do can hurt you or help you but either way, if you don’t win, it’s over,” Wotton said.
Wotton went on to lose to top seeded Diana Roy of Frisco Centennial (6-2, 6-2) in the quarterfinal.
Hill also faced a top seeded player against Daniel Moser of Texarakana Texas High.
Like Hill, Moser also won his first round match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, against Dallas Adamson’s Pedro Torres.
Hill had a tougher go as he was able to win against Luis Vallecillo of Brownwood (6-4, 7-5). It was his first win since losing to Larson in the district singles title match two weeks ago at the Ennis Tennis Center.
In his quarterfinal match against Moser, the sophomore Hill lost 6-1, 6-1.
“As proud as we are of Tanner, he competed against a (Texarkana) player who really went through the first day, really, without very little problems,” Midlothian coach Brady Gibson said.
Hill really came into his own this season after he had been paired in doubles competition all of his freshman year. When he entered the district tournament, he went as the top seed.
It’s for this reason that Gibson feels he will become a better tennis player come next school year.
“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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