FHS tennis set for state tourney
The month of May brings one question for Fredericksburg High School’s tennis program: Who’s going to win a state title this year?
The Battlin’ Billies head to the UIL Class 4A Tennis State Tournament, set for Thursday and Friday, May 17-18, at Texas A&M University in College Station, with gold as the goal.
Two mixed doubles pairs — senior Broque Constantine and junior Claire Maxcey, and junior Levi Wilkins and senior Caitlyn Halford — and the boys’ doubles duo of sophomores Blake Boubel and Noah Deleon — continue FHS’ sustained tennis success, which includes at least one state title in each of the last four springs.
This year’s group of six is the largest since the Billies took nine players to the state tournament in 2016.
“I think if we play well, they should all have a shot,” coach Randall King said. “I’d like to see our mixed doubles (pairs) play in the finals. That would be something (rare). I there’s been one time in school history that we’ve had FHS players play each other in the finals (Marisa and Nicki Mechem faced off in the 2002 4A girls’ singles championship match, with Nicki winning it all for the second time in three years).”
Constantine and Maxcey are the favorites to bring home a state title after winning the mixed doubles title in 2017.
The defending champs added another spring season of playing together under their belts and have been unstoppable at times during spring play.
“They work so well together, in all aspects of the game,” King said. “From communication to court presence, I think they’re biggest improvement has been in chemistry than anything. Going back to last year, we didn’t play them together until right at district. Then, in the fall, we never played them together during the season. It just didn’t help us team-wise. They’ve played together more this spring in anticipation of this run.”
The pair has won three spring tournaments, including the District 28-4A and Region IV-4A championships, proving they haven’t lost a step, and enter with plenty of state match experience.
“(Being the defending state champion) makes me a little more confident since I have background experience being there. I know what to expect, but I’m still pretty nervous because it’s state again,” Maxcey said.
Both players were qualifiers in 2016 (Constantine paired with Grace Igarta in mixed doubles, and Maxcey played with Myra Powell in girls’ doubles) and hold bragging rights as the only mixed doubles champions in school history.
Another mixed pair
Wilkins and Halford won a mixed doubles title in Smithson Valley earlier this season and finished as the district and regional runners-up.
Their strong season makes seeing an all-FHS mixed doubles final a strong possibility.
The two face what seems to be the only thing that can stop the Billies from tennis glory: a doubles pair from Abilene Wylie.
Wilkins and Halford start the tournament with a quarterfinals match against Kaitlyn Hathorn and Davyn Williford from Wylie.
“Levi and Caitlyn have the biggest hurdle,” King said. “They’re going to play Wylie first. It’s a winnable match if they play well.”
Wilkins says the Wylie pair are known for strong serving and volleying, but they’re up to the challenge.
“As long as we’re mentally tough, because tennis in my mind is 70 percent mental … if we can our heads in the game and focus on our game plan and what we need to do, then we will be just fine,” Wilkins said.
Both are first-time spring tournament qualifiers and started playing as a pair in January, but head into College Station with state experience from fall’s team tennis season.
“I was really happy to get the experience with the team tennis tournament last fall,” Wilkins said. “It’s really exciting to get to (qualify) with Caitlyn, because she’s a senior and it’s her last year. I can’t wait to see what it’s like.”
Doubles duo’s debut
Boubel and Deleon make their first spring state tournament appearance as sophomores.
Youth didn’t stop the two from winning a district championship and finishing second in Region IV.
“I thought we were going to stop at regionals,” Deleon said. “As soon as we played district and as well as we were playing together, we were like ‘Wow, we might actually have a good shot at this.’”
The FHS duo’s first match is tough — the boys play Kash Adams/Chase Daniell of Wills Point first — but King thinks Boubel and Deleon have shown a massive amount of improvement since the two didn’t play many matches together before district.
“(Wills Point) a very good doubles team, but I like the improvement from our two boys since district,” King said. “If you go back to district, it’s been a while, and we’ve had a lot of time to work with just a handful of kids. That boys’ doubles team has really grown up a lot in the last month and a half since district.”
King says the two are understanding doubles better than before and are starting to grasp the concepts of playing as a pair.
Both boys also have team tennis experience from the fall.
UIL Class 4A
Tennis State Tournament
Thursday and Friday, May 17-18
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center and the Omar Smith Instructional Tennis Courts
Texas A&M University,
Thursday, May 17
• 10:30 a.m. — Boys’ doubles quarterfinals.
• 1:30 p.m. — Mixed doubles quarterfinals.
• 4:30 p.m. — Boys’ doubles semifinals.
• 5 p.m. — Mixed doubles semifinals.
Friday, May 18
• 10 a.m. — Boys’ doubles final.
• Noon — Mixed doubles final.