Tennis team makes history with state ranking

Coppell+senior+Ruchika+Khowala+prepares+to+serve+in+a+District+6-6A+match+against+Lewisville+on+Sept.+10+at+the+CHS+Tennis+Center.+Coppell+tennis+was+recently+ranked+fifth+in+Class+6A+and+first+in+Region+I+by+Texas+Tennis+Coaches+Association+%28TTCA%29.+Photo+by+Anthony+Onalaja
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Tennis team makes history with state ranking

Coppell senior Ruchika Khowala prepares to serve in a District 6-6A match against Lewisville on Sept. 10 at the CHS Tennis Center. Coppell tennis was recently ranked fifth in Class 6A and first in Region I by Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA). Photo by Anthony Onalaja

Coppell senior Ruchika Khowala prepares to serve in a District 6-6A match against Lewisville on Sept. 10 at the CHS Tennis Center. Coppell tennis was recently ranked fifth in Class 6A and first in Region I by Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA). Photo by Anthony Onalaja

Anthony Onalaja

Coppell senior Ruchika Khowala prepares to serve in a District 6-6A match against Lewisville on Sept. 10 at the CHS Tennis Center. Coppell tennis was recently ranked fifth in Class 6A and first in Region I by Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA). Photo by Anthony Onalaja

Anthony Onalaja

Anthony Onalaja

Coppell senior Ruchika Khowala prepares to serve in a District 6-6A match against Lewisville on Sept. 10 at the CHS Tennis Center. Coppell tennis was recently ranked fifth in Class 6A and first in Region I by Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA). Photo by Anthony Onalaja

Akif Abidi, Staff Writer

Every year, the Coppell tennis team competes against 41 different programs from all over Texas to be in the top ranks, and though it has managed to break into the top 10 before, it has never been in the top ranked teams Texas.

But for the first time in its history last Friday, the Coppell tennis team was ranked fifth in Texas, amongst some of the most prestigious high school tennis programs in the state.

The rankings, determined by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA), are based off the season record, preseason included, of all Class 6A school teams in the state. After each match, scores (the sum of all the results of individual matches) are sent to TTCA, where coordinators assign a school rank according to the win-loss record along with the difficulty of the opponents. 

Therefore, Coppell, with an 8-4 overall record after facing off with some of the state’s best teams, earned itself a spot at rank five in the mid season rankings.

Because the rankings are determined by taking preseason matches into account, Coppell tennis coach Rich Foster made an effort to load the team’s schedule with as many preseason fix ups as possible. In fact, nine of the team’s 12 past matches have just been preseason tournaments and scrimmages.

Coppell sophomores Cason Cole and Vinay Patel prepare for their doubles match against Southlake Carroll at the CHS Tennis Center on Aug 14. Coppell tennis was recently ranked fifth in Class 6A and first in Region I by Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA). Photo by Sally Parampottil

To gain experience for next month’s playoffs, Foster scheduled his team against challenging opponents. Two of the matches Coppell lost were against Highland Park, the Class 5A State Champions for nine years running and one of the best tennis programs in the entire nation. Playing high caliber teams also helped with boosting Coppell’s rankings, even though the matches sometimes ended in losses.

“We play teams like [Highland Park] to prepare ourselves for the playoffs,” Foster said. “Just that we can play with a team like Highland Park and lose in a very close match… is amazing because Highland Park has not lost to anyone in the state championship in the past four years.”

Foster also attributes the great performances by the players to their constant training during the summer.

“I commend the kids and the parents because these kids work year round,” Foster said. “When we are not in school… our kids are all playing [United States Tennis Association] and they work their tails off. I am blessed with a situation where the kids come to me in-shape, ready to play the day they get here.”

The players competed individually during the summer at USTA training camps but seldom played as doubles, so this year, the team made an effort to up its doubles game early on.

“We have practiced a lot when it comes to doubles,” Coppell senior Rahul Malhotra said. “On day one, our doubles performances were not that good but if we look at our double matches today, we can really see improvement. I feel like our early lead in double matches [in games] is what has really helped with our success.”

The team has seven more matches before the playoffs begin on Oct. 14. However, becoming a state-ranked team proved to be a great moral boost for the players.

“Being fifth in the state makes us really look forward in this season, we are really excited to give state a shot,” Coppell senior captain Clark Parlier said. “We haven’t made the state playoffs [in the past few seasons] so since we have a good team this year, we really want to try for state.”

Follow Akif (@AkifAbidi) and @SidekickSports on Twitter. 

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