After posting a strong District record of 6-1 (giving Memorial a good scare in the process) and playing several strong out-of-conference opponents, Spartan tennis began 6A tennis playoffs with high hopes of a good run. On Tuesday, Sparty hosted the Heights High School out of HISD. The Spartan run started early and although the Heights tennis squad played well, they could never catch up.
Boys Line 1 Doubles squad Liam Collins and Emerson Hamlin were the first off the court with a quick win, followed by the Girls Line 1 Doubles team of Erin Bui and Renee Lee losing just one game in their win.
The good news continued as Kyle and Preston Chen, Alice Jiang and Brianna Johnson, Luka Silbernagel and Christian Nafziger, and June Lim and Ruthie Egger all brought home straight-set victories.
With the match score now 6-1, Sparty put the accelerator to the floor. Girls Line 1 through 4 went through the Heights lineup rather quickly with Erin Bui, Renee Lee, Brianna Johnson, and Hailey Schifano bringing it home. At Boys Line 2, Liam dispatched his Heights opponent to bring the first round of playoffs to a quick end.
On to the next one.
As expected, Spartan tennis drew Clements High School from Fort Bend ISD…again. Sited at First Colony in Sugar Land, Clements sits in a hotbed of Houston tennis and has a very strong program with top-notch players. There’s a lot of familiarity between Stratford's and Clements' tennis players as they know each other and have played against each other for years in tournaments. In last year’s playoff, Stratford squared off against Clements and the Rangers emerged victorious, but this year, Sparty was spoiling for a fight.
Although the Spartans were in fighting spirit, it was Clements who gave more than they received. Almost every Clements doubles line proved too tough, as Stratford was quickly down 0-5.
Only Mixed Doubles and Line 3 Boys were still in the fight. Mixed Doubles—Niko Boza and Anna Sanchez—and Line 3 Boys—Christian and Luka—stood a chance to put Sparty on the board.
Nico and Anna harnessed the fierce competitors within and put Stratford on the board with a hard fought 6-2, 6-2 victory.
With the score now 5-1 and Sparty desperate to keep it close, all the players and coaches headed down to Court 7 to root for Christian and Luka. They were down in the first set before coming back to take the set. Hard-hitting Clements took the second set convincingly and now it was in the tiebreaker. In the tiebreak, Christian and Luka displayed the uncanny ability to put nearly every ball—no matter how hard it was hit—back in the opponents' court. With unbelievable grit and determination, Christian and Luke won the tiebreak 11-9 and more importantly, kept the match score close at 5-2 to give Sparty a chance to make up ground in the Singles matches.
The change in momentum was short as the strength of Clements’ individual play kicked in. Slight margins compounded into larger margins and that’s the name of the game in tennis. At Boys Line 2 Singles, Liam Collins held his own for a convincing 6-0, 6-3 victory, but that was the last win of the night for Sparty. The Rangers proved too tough on too many lines and secured their spot in the next round.
The Stratford Spartan Tennis Fall season comes to an end with a 10-3 loss to Clements. But for the Spartans, there is a lot of good news and a bright future. This is a tough, gutsy, and underrated team with plenty of depth in both locker rooms. With a lot of hard work and match play in the offseason, there is a lot to look forward to in the Spring tournament season.
Some players were ready to quickly get back on the court, and Saturday several players competed in the MWCC UTR.