SSHS tennis breaks five year drought; Sanchez wins singles title
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 13, 2006 - MOUNT PLEASANT - The Sulphur Springs tennis team broke a five-year regional drought on Thursday, and did it in high style at the District 12-4A tournament.

Senior Cynthia Sanchez swept through the girls singles bracket to the district championship, and the doubles team of Aly Jackson and Lauren Longino emerged as the runner-up in their bracket to advance to the Class 4A, Region II meet in Denton in two weeks.

Three other SSHS doubles teams placed third, making them regional alternates.

As a team, the Wildcats placed second behind Texas High.

"I've never been more proud of a group of kids in my entire coaching career," said SSHS head coach Susan Reynolds. "Coming into this, I told them to challenge themselves to beat Texas High and they took them head-on. To have such great results in every division and have three going to regional is incredible."

Sanchez went into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, but beat Hanna Smith of Texas High, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals and put away the No. 1 seed from Mount Pleasant, Krystal Ruiz, 7-5 (7-2), 6-2 in the finals.

Reynolds said Sanchez dialed up her game at the right time.

"Cynthia had been struggling the past couple of months with what is basically her confidence," Reynolds explained. "But, she stepped up and played some of the best tennis I've ever seen her play, especially against the girl from Texas High. She is playing her best tennis, and her confidence level is high going into the regional meet, and that is a huge plus this being her senior year."

Jackson and Longino were seeded third in the girls doubles. They beat one Texas High team, lost in three sets to Malaby/Pearson from Texas High in the finals, then defeated teammates Morgan McCormack and Katie Hettich in the a playback for second place, 6-4, 6-1.

While having two teams from SSHS play each other for a regional berth was bitter sweet since they both couldn't advance, Reynolds said it was gratifying that her teams played so well.

"Aly and Lauren played the most aggressive doubles I've ever seen them play, and they showed no fear against Texas High, taking them out in straight sets," she said. "They're determined to get better and better, and I feel very confident they will make a strong showing at regional."

McCormack and Hettich won their first two matches in straight sets, before losing to the eventual champions and then taking third.

Also placing third was the boys doubles team of Brant Small and Jacob Harris, who defeated teammates Jordan Horne and Erich Hartin in the third-place match.

Two other SSHS teams played for third in the mixed doubles bracket, with Landon McCaig and Crystal Figueroa defeating Kyle Williams and Jessica Henry.

"This was by far the bet tennis all the players have played all year long," Reynolds said. "They adjustments we made in boys doubles and mixed really paid off, and to have such success in the first year of mixed was great."

There was some drama even before the tournament began. Sulphur Springs' Ryan Thompson had to withdraw due to illness, and the No. 1 seed, Mark Taylor of North Lamar, scratched due to an injury.

Below are results of the district tournament, with SSHS players listed first:

Boys Singles

Cameron Mitchell: def. Juan Sosa, Paris, 6-0, 6-3; lost to Andy Pulido, Texas High, 0-6, 0-6. Pulido won the district title, 6-2, 6-1, over Ryan Clark, Texas High.

Ryan Thompson: Withdrew due to illness.

Boys Doubles

Brant Small/Jacob Harris, No. 2 seed: first round bye; def. Carney/Rodriguez, MP, 6-0, 6-0; lost to Morgan/Pippin, Texas High No. 3 seed, 5-7, 0-6; def. Hartin/Horne, SS, 6-0, 6-2, for third place.

Erich Hartin/Jordan Horne, No. 5 seed: first round bye; def. Rawlings, Pratt, MP, 6-0, 6-2; lost to Moore/Moser, MP No. 1 seed, 1-6, 0-6; lost to Small/Harris, 0-6, 2-6.

Girls Singles

Cynthia Sanchez, No. 2 seed: first round bye; def. Kallie Kent, MP, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1; def. Hanna Smith, Texas High, 6-3, 6-4; def. Krystal Ruiz, MP No. 1 seed, 7-5 (7-2), 6-2.

Trish Byron, No. 4 seed: first round bye; lost to Shauna Foster, Texas High, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

Girls Doubles

Aly Jackson/Lauren Longino, No. 3 seed: first round bye; def. Hughey/Treldar, Texas High, 6-2, 6-1; def. Homer/Drange, MP No. 2 seed, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; lost to Malaby/Pearson, Texas High No. 1 seed, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, in finals; def. McCormack/Hettich, SS, 6-5, 6-1 in playback.

Morgan McCormack/Katie Hettich: def. Williams/Boshard, Greenville, 6-0, 6-0; def. Hosmer/Hernandez, MP No. 4 seed, 6-2, 6-1; lost to Malaby/Pearson, Texas High, 0-6, 0-6; def. Homer/Drange, MP, 7-5, 6-4, for third place; lost to Jackson/Longino, SS, 4-6, 1-6, in playback.

Mixed Doubles

Landon McCaig/Crystal Figueroa, No. 2 seed: first round bye; def. Hayes/Love, MP, 6-0, 6-2; lost to Lewis/Strayhorn, Texas High, No. 3 seed, 4-6, 3-6; def. Williams/Henry, SS, 6-1, 6-1, for third place.

Kyle Williams/Jessica Henry: def. Gurlington/Jones, Greenville, 6-1, 6-7 (8-10), 6-1; def. Lawrence/Terrell, MP, 6-0, 7-6 (7-3); lost to Austin/Salomon, Texas High No. 1 seed, 3-6, 1-6; lost to McCaig/Figueroa, SS, 1-6, 1-6, for third place.

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