By: Drew Hendrickson, Director of Tennis, Fitness, and Summer Programs
In just a few short weeks, Middle School Academy students will write a new chapter in the Tenacity history books. On May 12th, a new Staniar Open champ will be decided. And on May 19th, the 2016-17 MSTL Champion will be the honored recipient of the Crane Cup, and the head coach from that victorious school will have his or her name engraved into the sterling silver panel that adheres to that blessed hardware.
Heading in to those illustrious events, two favorites stand out. The Curley Flying Lions have had a spring season to remember. They posted a 4-0-1 record and scored satisfying wins over key rivals. On April 27th, they defeated the pre-season #1 and Holiday Classic Champion Jackson Mann Tigers, 2-0.
This win completed a near perfect spring season for the Curley. Were it not for that early tie to the JMann, the Flying Eagles might have run the table without blemish. While that may be fine fodder for Coach Payne’s Achievement Wall, his team will now focus its attention to the post-season championship that has heretofore proved stubbornly elusive.
The other front-runner is the Mario Umana Academy. Second in the standings with a 4-2 record, the Eagles have most recently dispatched of the JMann Tigers and the McCormack Panthers.
On a sunny but windy day at Constitution Beach, the Eagles thumped the JMann 3-0. 7th graders John Le and Robert Kubinec defeated Jazz Ramos and Lilu Malloy at 1st doubles, 6-3. At second doubles, Gabriel Soriano and Ana Ventura defeated Justin Vicente and Khalil Carnes 6-1. And at 3rd doubles, Kevin Argueta and Eric Guthrie defeated Ayra Haniff and Dilon Portillo 6-4. The win is among the most impressive of the season for the Umana.
“They had great teamwork. They were supportive of each other and encouraging,” said AmeriCorps Fellow Lori Chang.
In addition to the great teamwork, Ana Ventura said that she and her teammate gave each other space to hit their shots. “This was a tough match,” she added, “but not as bad as the Holiday Classic.”
Yes, she said it. The Holiday Classic, certainly a sensitive topic for the Umana. Ventura is not the only Umana Eagle who has bitter memories from that event. No doubt she and the rest of her team will have their eyes focused on redemption as they head into the Crane.
Several coaches have scoffed at the importance of MSTL regular season. Coach Joe Ruggles has been outspoken on the point that the regular season means very little. And other coaches have recently joined that chorus. This will be an interesting storyline throughout our tournament season. Will those atop the regular season standings carry their momentum into the post-season or will the sand-bagging cellar dwellers rise to the occasion?
As the tournaments near, we can all be sure that coaches and players will be kicking their programs into gear and getting ready for the climactic zenith for which the entire season has been a crescendo.