Four heads are better than two. It might not be a traditional motto, but it’s one that works for the Frost tennis program.

For the last two years, Frost has sent one doubles team — Sarah Page and Mary Vickery — to Austin for the UIL Tennis State Championships. This year, however, two new faces will join them for the Class 1A tournament Monday at the Lakeway World of Tennis.

Seniors Roel Perez and Jose Vela qualified for state as the second seed out of Region III, adding further growth to Frost’s budding program.

“I’m thrilled to death to take these particular boys (to state),” Frost tennis coach Milly Vickery said. “Our boys team has really strengthened in the last two years. I think this is just the beginning of some really good teams that are going to be coming up.”

Perez and Vela will meet Garden City’s Alex Halfmann and Taylor Niehues in first-round play at 11:45 a.m., while Page and Vickery, the top seed out of Region III, will take on Seagraves’ Hope Martinez and Stefanie Theurich in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Monday.

The Golden Circle’s only other representative, Hubbard’s Reni Zuechner, clashes with Milano’s Amanda Cearley at 10:15 a.m.

Coach Vickery said she’s been told the Garden City team is tough, and Perez and Velan know they will be underdogs at the tournament. But that isn’t always a bad thing.

“We’re really excited,” Vela said. “We came from not being so good to ending up at state. It’s a big difference from being third in district and coming to state. We’re the first Frost doubles team and we need to show them that we are big dogs in that tournament.”

Perez agreed.

“A lot of people didn’t believe in us getting past regionals,” he said. “This is our last year and we’ve been practicing really hard. We just want to win.”

It will also be Page and Vickery’s last year to compete as a team, since Page graduates this spring.

Although Vickery, a junior, will likely play singles next year, she wants her teammate to go out strong this year.

“It’s more important for me to excel for her than it is for myself,” Vickery said. “I want her to go out with a big title her senior year.”

The two teammates have been defeated in the first round of the eight-team tournament each of the last two years, but they’re hoping that experience will pay off the third time around.

“It’s been driving me crazy,” said Page, referring to the first-round exits. “We want to get past the first round real bad. I think it boosted our confidence because we finished first in our region and we’re playing a second place team. It’s their first year, and that doesn’t mean anything but we have a real good shot.”

Indeed, the Seagraves team has never appeared at the state tournament before. In fact, only they and the defending state champions — Nazareth’s Lacey Acker and Holly Kleman — return to the bracket from 2005.

Martinez and Theurich lost 6-3, 6-1 in the regional finals.

“They’re a good team, but they have some weaknesses,” coach Vickery said. “The Seagraves coach had seen us play and she thought it was going to be a very close match.”

Both Page and Vickery sensed that they are a better team than they were a year ago.

“The past two years, I don’t think we were confident because we didn’t feel like we could do anything,” Page said. “I was real excited about this year. We’ve been communicating better and I think we’re much improved skill-wise overall.”

Said Vickery, “We have more experience than most of the other teams. We’ve improved as a team and individually. I’m pretty excited about it.”

And though the level of competition will be the best the girls have faced in a year, their coach knows what they can achieve.

“The competition’s going to be stiff, but they do want to go out with a bang,” coach Vickery said. “I’d love it if they took the whole thing. They’re capable of it on a good day.”

Zuechner far from home at state tourney

Hubbard’s German foreign exchange student, Reni Zuechner, may be considered a senior for the Jaguars, but she has three years of high school remaining in Germany.

But the inexperience factor doesn’t frighten Zuechner as she makes her first appearance in the singles bracket at the UIL Tennis State Championships Monday morning. Before this spring, she hadn’t touched a tennis racket in two years.

“She grew up playing in a tennis club, but she hasn’t touched a tennis racket in a couple years,” said Hubbard coach Jeanette Smithey. But she went through regional without losing a set.”

Zuechner, who only has two losses to her credit this year, swept through the Region III-1A bracket at Nacogdoches to claim the top seed. She’ll face a second seed, Milano’s Amanda Cearley, in the opening round.

“Her first match is with a number two from another region, and if she wins she’d play the girl who got second in state last year,” Smithey said.

In 15 years of coaching tennis, Smithey has yet to take an athlete to the state tournament. It’s difficult for her to judge how Zuechner will compete, but she’s confident that her exchange student will be unfazed by the hype around her.

“Based on what I’ve seen, she gets better and better and better,” Smithey said. “If she continues to do that, I think she’ll compete well. Tennis is a very mental game and she does not let anything bother her. In her second match at regionals, she was down 4-zero. I had to check on another match, and when I got back the score was 5-1 and she came back to win that one 7-5. She’s capable of coming back. She’s very positive; a really super kid.”

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Joel Weckerly may be contacted via e-mail at jweckerly@corsicanadailysun.com

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