In less than 30 days, the Marble Falls High School tennis team will be at the Charlie and Nancy Herrington Tennis Center preparing for the 2022-23 season with more elation and enthusiasm than in past years.
That’s because the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs are competing in District 19-4A with Belton New Tech, Burnet, Jarrell, Lago Vista and Salado and are out of District 25-5A that included four Leander Independent School District schools, both Georgetown ISD schools and Liberty Hill.
Marble Falls head coach Sam Whitley pointed out how the move to Class 4A helps his program beginning with the University Interscholastic League’s approach to team tennis in the fall. Unlike Classes 5A and 6A, Marble Falls’ district in team tennis, a sport that is played in the fall, is different from the spring when singles and doubles teams can advance to the playoffs without their teammates.
“This upcoming (fall), I’m going to have players playing tennis who are in the band, cheerleading and volleyball,” he said. “And I’ll have a core group that’s just tennis players.”
In team tennis, 19 matches are played. The squad that gets to victory No. 10 first wins the head-to-head matchup and earns the victory for the slash mark in the win column. The 19 matches include three boys doubles matches, three girls doubles matches, one mixed doubles match and six boys and six girls singles matches. But to play that number of matches, Marble Falls must have at least six boys and six girls on the team. In that scenario, Whitley would have to forfeit the mixed doubles match.
In addition, Marble Falls also will rely on true freshmen to fill the varsity roster.
The reason for Whitley’s optimism comes back to numbers. In District 19-4A, most tennis programs must share students participating in other extracurricular activities. In other words, Whitley believes his counterparts at the other campuses also have core athletes who commit to tennis year around and must work with other coaches and directors of other activities to ensure students can participate in every activity they want. In District 25-5A teams showed up with 36-56 players who competed in tennis only.
“We’re going to have a better chance of competing,” Whitley said. “We’ll have the ability to be competitive with the boys and the girls.”
Marble Falls’ fall training camp starts Monday, Aug. 8, one week after the other sports. The week of Monday, Aug. 1, is when the leaders of the program call for team activities before coaches step in to lead the practices. To help with summer conditioning, Whitley has opened the tennis center from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and has been pleased with the number of athletes who are playing.
“It’s been very relaxed,” the coach said. “Most have gone out and played decent. We’re trying to develop our skills a little bit more.”
Getting in match shape is a priority considering Marble Falls will play Killeen High Aug. 11, Killeen Ellison Aug. 12 and Hutto Aug. 15, three non-district opponents, before the first day of school, which is Wednesday, Aug. 17, and will play Leander Glenn, its final non-district opponent, Friday, Aug. 19. All district matches will be played on Thursdays so players committed to other activities don’t have to choose. The first for Marble Falls tennis is at Lago Vista Aug. 25. The district tournament starts Sept. 29.
“It’s a wide open district,” Whitley said. “We’ll have to get out there and see how everything shakes out.”
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