After taking a few big steps a year ago, the Cleburne tennis program looks to continue trending upward with more success in 2019-20.
The 2019 fall season has already begun for the Yellow Jackets and Lady Jackets, with Cleburne facing some solid competition early on.
At the Duncanville Tournament last week, Cleburne went 1-2 with losses against Mansfield High (16-3) and North Crowley (12-7) before finishing on a positive note with a 16-3 win over Duncanville.
On Monday, Cleburne played Burleson and Crowley in a dual scrimmage, and the Jackets finished 1-1 with a 14-5 loss to the Elks and a 17-2 win over the Eagles.
Both the Jackets and Lady Jackets return several experienced players, with Cleburne’s girls team bringing back nearly everyone off last year’s young team.
Returning for the Lady Jackets are juniors Piper Reyna, Lily Edwards, Destiny Willis, Grace Leverett and Bailey Hollingsworth along with sophomores Bekah Brockett, Emma Rohr and Alyssa Cox.
Returners on the boys’ side for Cleburne are seniors Nick Crawford and Jonathan Roberts along with sophomore Matthew Limon.
Cleburne Coach Brett Almond said several of the experienced returners have already secured several spots in the pecking order.
“On the boys team, Nick Crawford, Matthew Limon, and Jonathan Roberts look to be pretty much locked in to those positions,” he said. “But Tyler Wisenbaker has shown some pretty positive play at No. 4. On the girls side, Bekah Brockett and Emma Rohr seem to have grabbed the top of the ladder, but after that there is a host of players competing for the No. 3 spot, on down.”
While Almond likes the experience with the returners he has, especially for the Lady Jackets, he’s also high on some of the potential several newcomers have shown early on.
“We have some freshmen that have really stood out in the early part of the season,” Almond said. “Ryan Evetts on the boys side and Megan Baadsgaard, Angie Andersen and SaiAnn King on the girls team. We have quite a few boys trying to come up from JV to take a spot on varsity. To name a few, Tyler Wisenbaker, David Thornton, Rodolfo Cruz, Tyler Hollis, Tony Sandoval and Jonathan Walker are battling for varsity action.”
One of the bigger areas of improvement for Cleburne’s tennis program entering 2019-20 is the overall depth, something that was lacking, especially 2-3 years ago.
“The one thing that I know is that we a great deal of is depth,” Almond said. “I feel that we can bring any of the top 12 kids on either the boys side or the girls side on varsity and compete. But, we are still pretty young with only three seniors.”
In order for Cleburne to take that next step and return to its more successful days of qualifying multiple players for regionals and beyond will come down to one thing.
“The thing that we will be looking for the most is to find consistency,” Almond said. “The fight and effort is there, we just have to find a way to be consistent.”
Almond said he hopes to contend for a top-4 spot in District 14-5A play, which includes Corsicana, Ennis, Joshua, Midlothian, Red Oak and Waco University.
“We know that Ennis and Corsicana look to continue to be very strong,” Almond said. “However, we feel we are in a dogfight for third and fourth with Mildothian and Red Oak.”
Cleburne is scheduled to return to action at 4 p.m. Thursday when the Jackets host Fort Worth South Hills. Then Cleburne is set to host Brock at 4 p.m. on Aug. 27 before beginning district play on Sept. 3 at Midlothian.
Cleburne’s only home varsity district tennis meets include Joshua on Sept. 10 and Corsicana on Sept. 24.