It’s gravy time.
The Sterling High School boys tennis team captured the District 22-6A crown two weeks ago in Deer Park and return there 8:30 a.m. today to compete in the Region 3 meet.
Carson Champagne and Jacob Naiser and Ryan Jones and Kavish Pipalia rolled to a 1-2 finish in doubles at the district meet and now the two duos and sophomore Brooke Benoit will represent the Rangers in the girls and boys fields respectively.
The first rounds will take place today and the semifinals and finals are set for Thursday.
None of the Sterling team members were seeded for their respective brackets and the top two finishers advance to the Class 6A state finals.
Houston Memorial and Fort Bend Clements represent the top four seeds in both doubles and singles.
“I would say Region 3 is one of the toughest,” Sterling head coach John Tremmel said. “It doesn’t matter who you draw in the first round, it’s going to be a tough draw. To get to regionals itself is a huge accomplishment and being one of the top 16 teams in your division in boys doubles and girls singles is a huge honor.”
Both doubles teams face a top four seed – Champagne and Naiser the No. 4 seed and Jones and Pipalia the No. 2 seed – from Fort Bend Clements.
“This season has been a big journey for the two of us as seniors on the team,” Naiser said of he and Champagne. “This is a great finale for our tennis careers.”
The duo won the district title and Naiser admits that he isn’t surprised now that the two of them eventually wound up as successful teammates.
“We are both good athletes and are committed to tennis,” Naiser said. “I played mixed doubles for three years and had some success there and I knew I was going to be alone since my partner graduated. So playing doubles with Carson was expected.
“We are both very competitive and we have good communication. I think it’s going to be a tough tournament – it’s going to be stacked. We need to play our best tennis – it’s the best thing we can do.”
Benoit made a nice run to the regionals as a No. 3 seed out of district play.
“Brooke definitely excels because of her competiveness and as an athlete,” Tremmel said.
As for Benoit, a volleyball player, she knows she can use her drive to win as a big advantage. It came in handy when she rallied to win her semifinal against the No. 2 seed.
“Volleyball has gotten me in shape to where my body is so used to conditioning like that,” Benoit said. “So the mental strength from volleyball has helped me with my tennis as well. Even in warm-ups, she was very consistent, but I felt like I had the advantage because I felt that I was more physically in shape and I can tell early on in the match, I had the better mental game. I felt when she messed up it was a littler harder for her to bounce back.”