|Wildcat senior looking for district championship in tennis|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 8, 2005 - Cody Moore, Luke Panter and Paul Pattberg all started playing tennis at different ages, have differing styles of play and will be going three separate directions once school is out in May.
But, for right now, all three are focused on one thing - the District 12-4A tennis tournament next Wednesday and Thursday in Mount Pleasant.
Moore plays singles, while Pattberg and Panter are in doubles though with different partners. The three Wildcat seniors will be gunning for one of the top two spots at the district tournament, which would qualify them for regional, and also attempting to help their team upset Texas High for the 12-4A championship.
In turn, SSHS head coach Susan Reynolds is looking for something extra from them.
"Mainly, leadership," she said. "These kids have a lot of experience. I have a lot of freshmen and sophomores and they're just bringing a lot of experience to them.
"Basically, they show them how to prepare for matches, how not to be nervous and how not to be intimidated by some teams."
Panter and his partner, Brant Small, go into the district tournament as the No. 1-seeded team, though Texas High will be a stern test after entering its best players in the doubles competition.
Panter is a late-comer to tennis, taking it up competitively just three years ago. He has blossomed into a very good net player, Reynolds said, partly because of his 6-3 frame.
"I was playing basketball, and I decided I didn't want to do that anymore," Panter explained. "Both of my parents played tennis in college, so I would play with them some, then coach (Mike) Armstrong talked to me about playing tennis, and I picked it up because I wanted to still play sports.
"They say I'm a pretty good net player because I'm long and tall and the other team can't do much lobbing."
His net play is one of the reasons he likes to play doubles rather than singles. In singles, the player is forced to stay on the baseline much more.
'I like the competitive nature of tennis," Panter said. "It's a lot of physical activity. We have a good group of kids, so it's fun."
After high school, he plans on enrolling at Oklahoma Christian University and majoring in biology to become an anesthesiologist.
Pattberg, who also plays doubles with partner Landon McCaig, took up tennis in the eighth grade and switched to doubles three years ago.
"I like it better than the singles match. It's more of a team-kind of play," he explained.
It's also a challenge, and Pattberg is all about taking on a challenge as exemplified by his enrollment after high school into the U.S. Marine Corps.
Coach Reynolds said she met with the players at the first of the semester to see if they were interested in singles or doubles. For her varsity, the division was simple.
"They chose who they wanted to team with, and it has been a good combination," she explained. "I've seen Luke and Paul make great strides this year. Of course, Cody was already very strong and consistent. He just keeps getting better."
Moore is the No. 1 singles player for the Wildcats, and he will take his skills to Independence Community College in Kansas after graduation.
His best asset, Reynolds said, is his court awareness, by his parents, who are both active in the city tennis association, and his freshman sister, the No. 2-ranked girls player. The family was recently honored as Family of the Year by the Texas Section of the U.S. Tennis Association.
"The sport's just a blast. I love being out here, competing and the thrill of the sport," Moore explained. "It's a fun sport, especially in good matches. You feel it inside and you just want to win more than anything."
After playing football, baseball, basketball and soccer growing up, he fell in love with tennis in the seventh grade and started having five-hour practice sessions.
"It's been non-stop since then, just having a blast and enjoying it," he added.
It will be an even bigger blast for him and the Wildcats if they can pull off the district title next week.