The Cleburne Yellow Jackets claimed a vitally important 10-9 victory over the rival Burleson Elks this week to inch closer to a playoff berth.
Cleburne improved to 4-1 in District 8-5A action with Tuesday’s win over Burleson and set the Jackets up to not only hone in on a postseason berth but to potentially avoid a fourth-place finish. It was Burleson’s first loss in district action as the Elks dropped to 5-1.
“In my eight years, that has been easily the biggest match we have been in,” Almond said. “We wound up needing to win three of the last four matches that were on the court. The crowd was passionate and the tennis was dramatic for both teams. It doesn’t get much better than when positive emotion flows in a tennis match like it did Tuesday night. The kids pulled through and won the three out of four and was a couple of points from winning all four.”
Behind first-place Midlothian (6-0), Cleburne is a half-game behind Burleson and the Jackets will own the head-to-head tiebreaker should they finish even. Cleburne currently sits in third place, one game ahead of Midlothian Heritage and Burleson Centennial, each 3-2 and tied for fourth place.
“There is no doubt that it’s a battle to get to the playoffs in this district,” Almond said. “The top five teams are very talented and really don’t make a whole lot of mistakes. This year, the kids have taken to heart being a team that plays with grit and perseverance. They keep coming at you all through the line-up.”
In addition to Cleburne’s 10-9 win over Burleson, the Jackets also have victories of 19-0 over Joshua, 19-0 over Arlington Seguin and 17-2 over Mansfield Timberview. Cleburne’s only loss to this point was a 16-3 defeat against first-place Midlothian.
In Tuesday’s win, the Lady Jackets came through clutch for Cleburne as they swept the three girls doubles matches and went 5-1 in girls singles matchups.
Cleburne’s Angie Andersen and Lily Fojtasek (8-4), Megan Baadsgaard and Madi Rose (8-3), and SaiAnn King and Riley Hunt (8-2) went 3-0 against Burleson in girls doubles. Andersen (6-3, 6-0), Baadsgaard (6-3, 6-2), Fotjasek (6-1, 6-3), Erin Febinger (6-3, 6-4) and King (6-2, 6-4) each claimed singles wins Tuesday.
On the boys’ side, Cleburne’s Chance DeArman (6-3, 7-6 (3)) and Josiah Jackson (3-6, 6-4; 10-5) picked up victories over the Elks in singles action.
With three meets to go, Cleburne has a chance to clinch a playoff berth Tuesday if it can come away with a win over Burleson Centennial. And the Jackets can clinch the No. 2 seed if they win their final three meets.
“We have to play with extreme effort and composure,” Almond said. “We’re expecting that [Centennial] will come out ready to play as this is an elimination match for them for all practical purposes. We have to be ready to withstand that energy and find a way to get to 10 wins.”
After Tuesday’s showdown with the Spartans, Cleburne will wrap up district play against Midlothian Heritage and Mansfield Summit the following two weeks.