STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
When tennis teams competing in the District 17-5A tournament at Leander Glenn High School exited buses April 2-3, few might have given more than a fighting chance to a couple of doubles teams from Marble Falls High School.
But that didn’t matter to juniors Avery Charlton and Mya Vasquez or seniors Ty Marshall and Mason Williams.
The Lady Mustangs duo, seeded fourth, surprised many, including themselves, when they won the district championship. The boys’ duo finished fourth, and both teams advanced to the Class 5A Region III tournament, which is April 17-18 at Blythe Calfee Tennis Center, 702 Gerald St. in Willis.
“It’s very surreal,” Vasquez said. “I’m still in shock. Especially from Marble Falls, we haven’t gotten that far in tennis.”
For Charlton, the moment was especially sweet. She now has a district title of her own to match her dad’s, Jeff Charlton, a Llano High School graduate.
“My parents are very proud,” she added.
The Lady Mustangs went 4-0 in the district tournament and had to beat Pflugerville Connally, the No. 1 seed, in straight sets in the semifinals. Then, they beat the Cedar Park High School duo in the finals.
“First is a really big deal,” Charlton said. “We had to work. We hadn’t played like that in awhile.”
“It felt good to have someone hit it back and give you a run for your money,” Vasquez said.
The Lady Mustangs began playing doubles as a team this year and quickly realized they worked well together. That partnership has only improved, they said.
The Mustangs, seeded No. 3, posted a 2-2 record at the district tournament. They beat teams from Cedar Park and Pflugerville Weiss.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to make our mark for district … and to show everybody what we’re about,” Williams said. “We got a shot this year, and it was good to take advantage of it.”
Marshall said the big key to their success at this tournament was taking advantage of missteps by opponents. If there was a chance to hit a winner, they took it to end the rally. If a lazy ball was hit to them, the Mustangs pounced and made the opponent pay.
“When we had opportunities to put the point away, we took it,” Marshall said.
Advancing to regionals was especially gratifying considering it’s been awhile since a Mustang qualified.
The last Lady Mustangs doubles team to advance to the regional tournament was Hannah Dockery and Madison Dyer in 2014.
Perhaps the only person not surprised by the two duos’ success is Marble Falls head tennis coach Kim Thomas. She put the teams together months earlier and watched the players work on their games and chemistry on and off the court to get better and better. To her, the results of the district meet exemplify the dedication necessary to earn regional spots.
“It started last fall with setting expectations a little higher and drilling in practice that they’re capable and setting them up for success in practice and building their confidence up,” she said. “Having them do this well in the tournament, it proves to themselves to feel it and really believe (they can win) is important. I’m really glad they had the opportunity.”