When you’re 99 percent of the high school tennis teams in Texas, you celebrate an appearance in the state semifinals as a crowning achievement.
When you’re Highland Park — the most decorated program in the state’s history — falling short of an eighth consecutive state title yields a much different perspective.
“We took that personally,” said HP senior Logan Lett. “The team felt like we let the teams before us down who started the tradition.”
After the Scots fell to New Braunfels last November at the Class 6A state tournament, then failed to bring home any championships during the spring season for the first time since 2001, it became time to refocus.
“It was an eye-opener,” said junior Phillip Quinn, who has made two state tournament appearances in mixed doubles. “We took things for granted.”
This season, after dropping down to Class 5A, the Scots look ready to reclaim their supremacy after an undefeated regular season that includes victories over defending 5A state champion Grapevine, as well as three teams ranked among the top 10 in Texas in Class 6A — Allen, Plano West, and Southlake Carroll.
“We’re getting better as we go,” said HP head coach Dan Holden. “There’s a sense of purpose and focus with this team.”
Elizabeth Tedford, who won a state title in mixed doubles in 2014, is the top girls player for HP, while Quinn leads the boys. Although the Scots lost several of last year’s standouts to graduation, especially among the girls, Holden said the maturity of the newcomers and a more balanced lineup have fueled this season’s success.
Lett said an additional key has been the rapport developed by members of this year’s squad, both on and off the court.
“We’re definitely focused on more of a team attitude,” she said. “The whole mentality is different this year.”
HP hopes that sense of hunger and determination will carry it back to the state tournament on Nov. 2-3 in College Station, where the intent is obvious.
“Last year, we fell short of our goals, and it hurt everybody,” Holden said. “You have to wait a year to go back and make it right.”