FHS eight sets sights on state
Big Red tennis is ready for its annual College Station takeover.
A group of eight Fredericksburg High School tennis players is set for the UIL Class 4A State Tennis Tournament on Thursday and Friday, May 16-17, at the George A. Mitchell Tennis Center at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Three doubles pairs — Noah DeLeon/Levi Wilkins, Thomas Wainwright/Jaci Spies and Blake Boubel/Avery Stephens — will play in the tournament, along with singles players Olivia Alvarez and Claire Maxcey.
This marks the largest group FHS has taken to state since 2016, the year the team took nine athletes to state and came away with titles in girls’ singles (Hannah Boubel) and boys’ doubles (Parker Phillips/Sitman Wainwright).
“The experience of going in the fall means a lot,” coach Randall King said. “I think they get that the expectation is that this is where we’re supposed to be. They work pretty hard to keep that up. I think they all have as good of a shot as anybody. When you get to the state tournament, you’ve got to be able to play.”
Boosted by winning the school’s second Class 4A team tennis crown in four years during the fall, FHS’ strong camp of players has the conviction that anything’s possible this week.
“It definitely carries the momentum,” DeLeon said. “Holding that gold medal is one of the highlights of my high school career, so I definitely want to experience that in individuals. I’ve heard from past champions that an individual title feels more exciting when it’s you and your partner.”
Changing of the guard
Old meets new when it comes to FHS’ two netters in the girls’ singles bracket.
Senior Claire Maxcey has pretty much done it all by this point. Maxcey has four state championships and a total of six state medals to her name.
“I obviously want to do good,” Maxcey said. “I want to hopefully win, but it will be difficult. I think I can do it.”
A win this week gives her a school-best five gold medals and seven total state medals in an already storied high school career.
“She’s been a rock,” King said. “She’s quiet, but she leads by example. She’s determined, works out and she’s just solid. You know that day in and day out, she’s going to work hard in practice. You go to the tournament and she’s going to give 100 percent and give her ultimate best every time she’s on the court and you don’t expect any less because that’s how she’s been every time she’s stepped on the court.”
Alvarez gives FHS its first freshman state singles player since Hannah Boubel won it all in 2014.
She’s been on varsity since Day 1 and handles the pressure of the big situation well, which is a good omen for the future of FHS tennis.
Having a freshman and senior both represent the school gives the Billies a generational changing of the guard at state.
“It kind of bridges that gap,” King said. “You have one graduating and moving out and then a freshman who’s starting to make her mark on things. It’s kind of neat seeing that set up.”
The two are used to playing in big stakes matches with each other since the two were FHS’ No. 1 girls’ doubles pair in the fall.
“Playing doubles was definitely an amazing experience,” Alvarez said. “She’s such a great player and it helped me to get better at doubles and play at a higher level than before because I’ve played singles all my life. Playing against her is helpful but at the same time, kind of annoying but it’s a growing experience.”
What’s new, or not so new, is having the two play as adversaries in high-stakes matches, with Maxcey and Alvarez facing off for both the District 28-4A and Region IV-4A championships.
Maxcey came out on top in both finals matches, and a rematch between the two FHS aces is definitely on the table.
“With Olivia being a freshman, it will depend on her handling the nerves,” King said. “Both girls are going to have to play well in order to get there … At regionals, we thought Claire would be a pretty sure shot to make the finals and we knew Olivia was going to have to step up and she did in the semis. She beat (Brooke Runyan) from Devine who was a little higher ranked player than she was. It’s a possibility.”
FHS’ doubles program continues to churn out strong pairs, with this year’s three state entries showing up as living proof that whatever King sells is working.
The doubles program is core to the Billies’ two team tennis state championships and the current string of three spring doubles championships the school carries to College Station.
“To be honest, we teach these kids at the middle school level a system of playing doubles and when they get to us in high school, we build on that,” King said. “It’s a very simple offense that we run and just like a football or basketball team runs a set play, we have a couple of set plays that we execute very well and the pieces are interchangeable. Each kid knows what their job is.”
This allows King and company to take players like Wilkins, DeLeon and Blake Boubel, who all made it to state playing doubles last year, and give them new partners for this season.
Wilkins and DeLeon are a new pairing that connected immediately when joining forces as FHS’ No. 1 boys’ set in the fall.
“They’re very compatible in that they’re both very aggressive,” King said. “They played together in the fall, so they know each other’s game. A lot of doubles play is about being able to anticipate what your partner’s going to do. They’ve played probably 50-plus matches together since we started back in August.
“They know what the other one’s going to do before it happens. That’s what’s made them so successful.”
The two head into state with lots of confidence after winning the Region IV-4A title this season.
“I love playing Levi,” DeLeon said. “We’re both very aggressive and try to challenge each other in every match. We lift each other up when the other gets down.”
Boubel/Stephens and Wainwright/Spies were completely new groups for the spring
“It’s just a combination of a couple of good boys who are very aggressive at the net and can be intimidating,” King said. “Then you have a couple of good girls who serve and return well and keep the ball in play from the baseline. Those combinations tend to match up and be successful.”
Both pairs have battled for the regional and district titles in tightly contested three-set matches during the spring season.
Wainwright/Spies won the District 28-4A title but Boubel/Stephens won the regional final rematch.
“It’s been pretty fun,” Wainwright said. “It’s made us work harder and a lot better. It’s made us more determined to win at state.”
Past eight years
2019–Claire Maxcey (girls’ singles), Olivia Alvarez (girls’ singles), Levi Wilkins/Noah De-Leon (boys’ doubles), Blake Boubel/Avery Stephens (mixed doubles), Thomas Wainwright/ Jaci Spies (mixed doubles).
2018–Blake Boubel/Noah DeLeon (boys’ doubles), Broque Constantine/Claire Maxcey (mixed doubles), Levi Wilkins/Caitlyn Halford (mixed doubles).
2017–Hannah Boubel (girls’ singles), Broque Constantine/Claire Maxcey (mixed doubles).
2016–Hannah Boubel (girls’ singles), Emily Warren/Abby Peet (girls’ doubles), Myra Powell/Claire Maxcey (girls’ doubles), Parker Phillips/Sitman Wainwright (boys’ doubles), Broque Constantine/Grace Igarta (mixed doubles).
2015–Hannah Boubel (girls’ singles), Grace Igarta/Myra Powell (girls’ doubles), Parker Phillips/Sitman Wainwright (boys’ doubles).
2014–Hannah Boubel (girls’ singles), Grace Igarta/Myra Powell (girls’ doubles), Sitman Wainwright/Parker Phillips (boys’ doubles).
2013–Logan Igarta/Michael Moellering (boys’ doubles).
FHS Past State Champions
2018–Broque Constantine/ Claire Maxcey, mixed doubles.
2017–Broque Constantine/ Claire Maxcey, mixed doubles.
2016–Hannah Boubel, girls’ singles; Parker Phillips/Sitman Wainwright, boys’ doubles.
2015–Hannah Boubel, girls’ singles.
2014–Hannah Boubel, girls’ singles.
2002–Nicki Mechem, girls’ singles.
2000–Nicki Mechem, girls’ singles.
1994–Sonya Immel/Cornelia Sawatzky, girls’ doubles.