No Match For Them

When tennis comes to mind, most people think of greats such as Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, or Roger Federer- individuals whose personal achievements and records left unforgettable legacies. At the high school level, success of the individual is celebrated too- but not before the goals of the team.

“It goes from being an individual sport where you’re isolated out on an island, sort of playing for yourself, to all of the sudden playing for the person next to you. You see some kids find a different gear of motivation,” varsity head coach James Bramlett said. “That’s kind of the cool part about high school tennis.”

In high school tennis, individual players, as well as doubles teams, are ranked on state-wide and nationwide levels. However, winning district championships and going deep in the playoffs as a team is the common goal for a varsity squad.

“I think we had set a standard before the season that we knew we were going to win the district championship,” senior Diego Madrigal said. “We were confident we were going to beat Tompkins, beat Jordan, all the usual powerhouses. You believe it, you achieve it.”

The Spartans experienced an electric regular season, going 16-2 and knocking down many top-ranked teams along the way. Senior Diego Madrigal and freshman Allen Xu defeated Memorial High School’s state leading boys doubles team, an impressive upset that solidified the Spartan’s hold as a force to be reckoned with.

“It was a nail-biter, to say the least. They’re the number one team in the state, they came and had really good players. Allan, my partner, and I were able to just take it up a notch and go into singles feeling confident that we had just beat the best doubles team for the number one team in the state,” Madrigal said. 

All season, the Spartans played with a chip on their shoulder. In last year’s season, they fell short in the district championship to Tompkins, a crushing blow that motivated them throughout the year. 

“Well, a big part of our success this year was losing last year to Tompkins, 10-9. We really wanted to win that match, and it kind of helped drive us and motivate us all year,”  Bramlett said. “That was a good loss for us to take because it helped keep us hungry. ”

Despite being an individual sport, the chemistry between the players on the team has played a huge role in their success. Every triumph is celebrated and every challenge is met with motivation as the athletes push one another to be their best.

“There’s a lot of cheering, a lot of camaraderie. It all just blends together and creates an environment that, instead of making it an individual sport, becomes more of a team affair.” Madrigal said. “Off the court, you are helping the people on the court win because you’re cheering and keeping them active and keeping them in the game.”

From the very beginning of the season, the chemistry was apparent, and it helped unify both younger and older players on the team.

“Right off the bat, we went to a tournament in Plano. A lot of the time, the freshmen are apprehensive and nervous about the older kids that have been there, but from day one, lots of the freshmen and seniors sat together. The seniors really took the younger kids under their wing. There was no awkward, stepping-on-eggshells type mindset for the freshmen,” Bramlett said. 

With their talent, heart, and hustle, the Seven Lakes tennis team is set to make a deep playoff run.