REL tennis squad to rely on many new faces

The Robert E. Lee team tennis squad is aiming for another trip to the Class 5A playoffs this year. Back row, from left are Adrian Bruno, Kristian Garza, Evan Kerr, Tyler Landreneau, Christopher Banks and Michelle Ortega. Front row, from left are Abigail Nevarez, Stephanie Munoz, Hailey Flores, Heather Bieschke, Baylee Dixon and Jennifer Sanchez.

With a bunch of new faces on his roster, Robert E. Lee’s sixth-year head tennis coach Brandon Funderburg just hopes to make progress this season.

His program comes off a 2-4 district record that saw the Ganders through to the bi-district round of the fall team tennis season where they lost to Nederland, the top seed out of District 21-5A.

“Our team is in much of the same place as last year,” Funderburg said. “Our girls are relatively inexperienced, and most will be entering their second year playing tennis. All of our boys are going to be playing higher on the ladder than they have in past seasons.”

Funderburg graduated four senior boys, including his top singles players and top two doubles teams while two girls who played a big role have also departed.

One of his returning boys, senior Kristian Garza who will be a either the No. 2 or No. 3 singles player and likely play No. 1 doubles, believes the team senses more pressure this season more than the individual one in the spring. 

“But you have a lot more opportunities to actually play,” Garza said. “You have extra things, even if you are not in the main lineup, there are still opportunities to play.”

Garza is more of a doubles player than a singles player, but he has worked in the offseason to prepare for playing both.

“I have some singles training, but I have to reteach myself over the summer,” Garza said.   

Other key performers for the Ganders will be, for the boys side, seniors Titus Batongmalaki, Adrian Bruno and Michael Garcia and juniors Christopher Banks, Evan Kerr and Jacob Sandoval while seniors Grecia Aurelio, Johana Chavez and Michelle and Ortega, juniors Kristin Spence and Sydney Wade and sophomore Jennifer Sanchez are expected to spearhead the girls.

REL opens the season at 3 p.m. today at Splendora.     

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