The Wylie tennis team ended its season hoisting a trophy in the state team tennis tournament — only it wasn’t the trophy the team wanted.
“Our goal was to win a state championship,” Coach Mark Hathorn said. “We felt like we had the team. We are still fairly young, but I knew we had the personnel, and I knew we had worked hard enough to be able to do it.”
The Bulldogs fell just short, however, losing in the State Championship game to a seasoned, veteran Highland Park team that has won 22 state championships, including six in a row. But that loss does not take away from the epic year Wy- lie had. The Bulldogs went 34-2, winning a tough district and then surviving an even tougher region to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2018.
The highlight of the run to state was an emotional win over Amarillo High in the regional quarterfinals. Amarillo High knocked Wylie out of the playoffs in 2019, ending a very long streak of team tennis state appearances. Amarillo also knocked Wylie out in 2020.
In fact, Wylie’s only losses in both 2019 and 2020 were to Amarillo High.
“The atmosphere that we had at that match was second to none on the excitement and just the cheering and the sportsmanship by both sides,” Hathorn said. “It was just an awesome atmosphere for our kids to be a part of.”
Wylie won the match 10-8 when senior Logan Bible finished off his singles game to give Wylie its 10th win and clinch the victory. Carly Bontke said beating Amarillo High was an amazing feeling.
“Everyone had so much energy and the tension was built up from the past two years,” she said. “It was an incredible feeling to beat them finally. We all went out on the court, and we lifted Logan up. It was just incredible.”
Although Carly, who was Wylie’s No. 1 girl, went to state this past spring in individual tennis, she said she really enjoyed going as a team.
“It’s a completely different feeling to be going with your team,” she said. “It’s way more fun as a team. Everyone is there, and you are bonding with everyone. The atmosphere was incredible and extremely positive.”
Wylie’s run to state is particularly impressive when you con- sider that only two players had ever been to a state team tennis tournament. And those two – Marcus Rose and Vincent Merca- do – didn’t play in 2018, when they were only freshmen.
Marcus said making it to state this year was even sweeter since it was his last chance.
It meant a lot,” he said. “I’ve been playing tennis for a long time. The fact that it was my senior year, and we made it to state, that kind of made it special.”
Makeda Marquardt, the only senior on the girls’ side, said she has tried to mentor the younger girls.
“They are like my little babies,” she said. “It was that feel- ing of family. We spend so much time together; we get to learn a lot about each other. We are really good about being there for each other and supporting each other. I think that’s really special.”
Although the current team did not have a lot of state experience, they knew that Wylie as a school did. The Bulldogs had a very long streak of state appearances in team tennis in the lower classifications.
“I was pretty aware of how dominant Wylie was in Class 3A and 4A,” said Wylie’s No. 1 boy, Trevor Short, who is just a sophomore. “I would say Wylie is still one of the more dominant schools. We just need to continue doing what we are doing and beat Amarillo High. That’s our big obstacle to get to state.”
The stats back Trevor up. In 2019 and 2020, Wylie was un- defeated during the regular season. This year the team only lost one regular season game to a school that finished sixth in Class 6A. Wylie also beat seven schools that were ranked in the Top 20 in Class 6A.
Not only that, but almost every team in Wylie’s district is in the Top 20 in Class 5A, and three of the top six teams in the state are in Wylie’s region.
Trevor said the Bulldogs now have state experience and some extra motivation for next year.
“It will help us because we have the experience, and we know what we need to work on and what we need to accomplish,” he said. “We all know that we need to get better, but now we know what we need to get better at.”
Hathorn said the 2nd place finish at state has definitely motivated his younger players.
“They are fired up,” he said. “They are ready to go. They felt like we had a shot. They want that state championship.”
By Candy Reagan