By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana — After winning the district in fall team tennis action, Chad White knows anything goes in the spring. When the Tigers venture to Jacksonville early next week for the District 16-4A tournament, the individual competition stiffens.
Nevertheless, the Tigers have high hopes of sending several players on to regionals in Arlington.
“Things have been going really well,” said White, three years into his tenure after replacing his brother Jason, who continually fielded one of the top programs in the region.
Chad has had big shoes to fill, and it hasn’t always been a walk in the park, he said. But with a couple of top seeds, and several more seeded two or three, this spring could be his best yet.
“They always say it takes a new coach three years,” said White, who admitted he’s different from his brother in terms of personality and approach. “The three years, it’s more about relationships. It was tough at first, the kids were so used to Jason. …
“This year has been awesome. We have such a great group of kids, and that’s why we’re doing so well.”
Depth helped the Tigers win in the fall, White said. At the four, five and six seeds, they were simply better. At the top levels in the spring, however, where players advance individually, the district offers more challenges.
Where the Tigers have depth in the spring is in doubles play, where they have the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in boys play, and Nos. 1 and 3 in girls.
“Girls doubles will be a dog fight,” he said. “They’re almost all at the same level” district-wide.
Freshman Maggie Phinney and sophomore Caroline Kennemore enter as the top-seeded tandem. Senior Katie Miller and junior Ellen Yates are the third seed. “They may have got the third seed, but they could win it all,” White said. “It depends on whose day it is.”
In boys doubles, junior Jonathan Caston and sophomore Ben Crocker have the top draw after advancing to regionals a year ago, with juniors Tyler Schultz and Brandon Levenson seeded second.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to pull (Nos.) 1 and 2 from the boys doubles,” White said.
The top two finishers advance to the Region II meet at the University of Texas-Arlington. Third place will go as an alternate.
Only two teams per school can participate in each division at district.
In girls singles, senior Autum Grounds, a regional qualifier last spring as an alternate, is seeded second. Melany Betancourt is also in the singles field.
Jacob Middleton and Christian Minniear will represent the Tigers in the boys singles field, and there are two mixed doubles teams making the trip to Jacksonville: Eric Melton and Michelle Cho, and Vicente Castillo and Laura Flores.
“We’re real excited,” White said. “We’ve got a great group of kids.”