Jordanian tennis qualifies for first state tournament

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The Region III-5A Team Tennis Tournament was held on the grounds of Katy ISD’s only State Champion. If her new school continues its rapid rise, the district may have another before long.

Jordan will send a team to the state final in just its second year of existence. The Warriors earned a 10-5 victory over Friendswood in a competitive regional championship game on Oct. 22 at Taylor High School.

A clash between the champions of Districts 19-5A and 22-5A matched the frame, playing even closer than the final score indicated. Four matches went to singles matches, including three in doubles. Jordan won three, taking a key 4-3 lead in singles matches.

“They beat (A&M) Consolidated 10-9 so we knew it was going to be a game in our hands,” said Jordan coach Tyler Esterline. “At least once a week, we only practice tie-breaking. Once you get to that area, the regional finals, it’s going to come down to a few tiebreakers. The person who plays them the most and is more comfortable with them usually does better. Hats off to Friendswood. They have a great team. They’ve been here plenty of times. (Friendswood coach David Cook) has a great program there and they do a great job with their kids.

Jordan’s Vedhanth Rajagopalan and Luke Vierling swept away the boys’ doubles match No.2, while Sam Bowles and Michael Lanni of Friendswood won Game 3. The Mustangs rallied to force a tie-breaker at No.2. 1, but Vincent Rivas and Aneesh Melachuri gave Jordan the victory.

Friendswood’s Will Hipskind and Fiona Fuke won a tiebreaker in the mixed doubles match, while Jordan won two of three in the women’s doubles. The exception was a Mustang sweep by the No.1 duo of Nandini Bhojani and Elise Moss.

Renata Antelo and Samiksha Boinpalli swept Jordan in the third row, while Ikshu Shandilya and Carrie Yang recovered from a loss in the first set and won in a tiebreaker.

“It was fun to play,” Rivas said. “They were very good games. They were close. We could have been led 5-2. It could have gone both ways. Their team was good.

The Warriors won six of the eight singles matches completed, with Vierling winning a tiebreaker at No.3. Rajagopalan swept the boys’ singles match No.2, losing just one game. Rivas controlled the first set in Game 1 before Tyler Nelson rallied, pushing the second set to 6-4.

“He kind of came back and was hitting balls better, with more spin and power, so I had to adapt to that,” Rivas said.

Friendswood’s Seth Thompson won the fifth row in the boys ‘singles, while Elise Moss won the girls’ No.3 to help the Mustangs stay in the game.

Jordan’s top female duo, Keerthana Hari and Rachana Hari, both swept their matches. Avery McKay won a competitive match against Elle Moss in the fourth row, rallying two matches in the second set to win the deciding game 6-3, 7-5.

“It was really tight,” McKay said. “Everyone supporting each other was by far the best part. It was really great to see that. My team cheering me on after every point was the most important thing. Stay in my head, don’t let my opponent get to me and just keep faith in you, realize that you are a good player and that you can do it.

McKay’s victory started the celebration for Jordan, who beat Baytown Sterling by an identical margin the day before. The Warriors shut out New Caney and Austin McCallum to start the playoffs before a 10-6 regional quarterfinal victory over foe District Lake Creek.

Friendswood knocked out Port Neches-Groves 15-3, Fulshear 13-1 and Barbers Hill 10-0 before winning a tight semi-final against A&M Consolidated.

“If you had asked me a month or two ago, I would have said we were the three teams that I thought could win,” Cook said. “It showed in the scores. (Jordan) defeated A&M Consolidated 10-9. We beat them 10-9. If it plays out, it could have been 10-9 or 11-8. Play them the next day, it might be the other way around. They got us today, but it’s a pretty thin line between who comes out and who doesn’t.

Friendswood will have the chance to make it to the state tournament during the individual spring season before forming a group of 10 seniors. In team tennis, the Mustangs have continued an impressive tradition that includes five state appearances.

“I’m pretty proud of them,” Cook said. “At the start of the year, I was always asked if we were down, and I didn’t think so. We weren’t beating people with big margins, but we were mainly playing in 6A competition, some of the best teams in the world. I think it has helped us in the long run. Since mid-September we have only lost once until today.

Jordan joins Abilene Wylie, Highland Park and Georgetown in tranche 5A of the UIL State Tournament. The Warriors will be the new team in the final four, a year ahead of their senior senior class.

Even playing only with freshmen and sophomores last fall, Jordan qualified for the playoffs and advanced to the regional quarterfinals. The Warriors have focused on achieving the state since their first summer training.

“It’s great to be such a young team,” said McKay. “Our second year here and we are already winning the regional ones. I know other teams thought we were overrated and it really worked to our advantage.

Jordan 10, Friendswood 5

Double boys

1: Vincent Rivas / Aneesh Melachuri (J) beats. Carson Crow / Enrique Castillo (A), 6-3, 2-6, 1-0

2: Vedhanth Rajagopalan / Luke Vierling (J) def. Ethan Eberhardt / Sebastian Leiman (A), 6-3, 6-3

3: Sam Bowles / Michael Lanni (F) beats. Henry Galloway / Erick Velderrain (J), 6-1, 6-0

Double girls

1: Nandini Bhojani / Elise Moss (F) beats. Addison Ashton / Rachana Hari (J), 6-4, 7-5

2: Ikshu Shandilya / Carrie Yang (J) beat. Elle Moss / Audrey Tang (F), 2-6, 6-1, 1-0

3: Renata Antelo / Samiksha Boinpalli (J) beats. Elodie Ridout / Maryam Siddiqi (A), 6-2, 6-2

Mixed Doubles

1: Will Hipskind / Fiona Fuke (F) beat. Keerthana Hari / Tomas Guzman (J), 6-1, 2-6, 1-0

Single boys

1: Vincent Rivas (J) beats. Tyler Nelson (A), 6-0, 6-4

2: Vedhanth Rajagopalan (J) defeated. Will Hipskind (F), 6-0, 6-1

3: Luke Vierling (J) defeats. Enrique Castillo (A), 6-4, 0-6, 1-0

5: Seth Thompson (F) beats. Aneesh Melachuri (J), 6-2, 6-2

Single girls

1: Keerthana Hari (J) defeats. Fiona Fuke (F), 6-3, 6-2

2: Rachana Hari (J) defeats. Nandini Bhojani (A), 6-1, 6-1

3: Elise Moss (F) beats. Carrie Yang (J), 6-2, 6-2

4: Avery McKay (J) defeated. Elle Moss (F), 6-3, 7-5

Unfinished matches

4: Henry Galloway (J) v Carson Crow (F), 7-6, 1-1

6: Ganesh Venu (F) against Erick Velderrain (J), 2-1

5: Elodie Ridout (F) against Samiksha Boinpalli (J), 4-3

6: Ikshu Shandilya (J) vs. Audrey Tang (F), 4-1


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