Highland Park Wins 4 Out of 5 State Tennis Championships
AUSTIN — Four out of five ain’t bad. When it comes to the state tennis tournament, it’s absolutely dominant.
Highland Park tied a school record for the most victories at state by winning girls singles (Elizabeth Porter), boys doubles (Hunter Holman/Luke Stainback), girls doubles (Chandler Carter/Nan Porter), and mixed doubles (Connor LaFavre/Margo Taylor) on Tuesday at Penick-Allison Tennis Center. And two of the finals — girls doubles and mixed doubles — were Scots vs. Scots.
The only division Highland Park didn’t win was boys singles, and that’s because the Scots didn’t have a qualifier.
The first day of the tournament, which featured the quarterfinals and semifinals, had a couple of long delays because of lightning and rain. Some of the matches did not finish up until after 9 p.m.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to all of our kids,” Highland Park head coach Dan Holden said. “[Monday] was very tough. All of our kids did a great job after stopping and starting again. They took care of business. It was a great haul. The kids just keep raising the bar. It makes me proud. I’m not surprised at anything they do. I can’t say enough about them.”
LaFavre/Taylor were the only defending state champions for Highland Park. And after losing to teammates Sarah Cannon/Avery Schober at regionals, the duo successfully defended their title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over their teammates in the finals.
“It feels great,” LaFavre said. “This morning, we warmed up well. We went out and were a little nervous, but we got over our nerves and played real well — especially Margo. Losing at regionals kind of took the pressure off. We didn’t have to try to beat them four times in-a-row. The first match [of state] was real tough. Once we start playing, it’s like any other match.”
Since LaFavre is a junior and Taylor is a sophomore, the duo will have a chance for a third straight title next year.
“It’s pretty great,” Taylor said. “We just thought about it and learned what we needed to do to really get on our game. We kind of figured it out. We had a little more motivation to win since we were defending champions. I’m proud of everyone.”
In boys doubles, Holman/Stainback knocked off Henry Adams/John King of San Antonio Alamo Heights, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3, in an entertaining final. The victory was even sweeter after the Scots duo lost in last year’s finals.
“It was pretty exciting to finally get one my last year,” said Stainback, whose sisters Anna and Abby combined for five state doubles titles at Highland Park. “It was a lot of hard work. It feels good to finally get on top. I was fired up. It was intense. We got the adrenaline pumping. You just have to go out there and give it all you got.”
Holman, a junior, was happy to get to experience his first spring title with Stainback.
“When we won that last point, I cheered and said, ‘Come on,’ like we had won any other close match,” Holman said. “A few seconds later, it sunk in. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. An individual state championship is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. The fall is awesome, but you know you did it all yourself in the spring.”
Carter/Porter took care of teammates Elizabeth Burgos/Maddie Gordon, 6-1, 6-1, in the finals.
“It feels good to go out on a win,” said Nan Porter, who will continue her playing career at Army. “A lot of people go out with a bad feeling. I’m glad I could go out feeling good about everything. When we paired up, we knew we had a good shot. We’re pretty good friends with them [Burgos/Gordon]. There’s no hard feelings.”
Carter, a freshman, was happy to win a state title to start her high school career.
“I felt like we could do it,” Carter said. “We played them in all three finals [district, regionals, state]. We played really well.”
Elizabeth Porter, who is no relation to Nan, didn’t show any signs of being nervous as a freshman at state. She swept all three of her opponents, including Pearland Dawson’s Kelly Zhu, 6-1, 6-1, in the finals.
“I knew most of the players I played in this tournament,” she said. “I had played them a lot, so I was familiar. I was pretty confident coming out here. It was pretty exciting having all of my teammates out here.”