Historic! Record-setting! Dominating! Those are just three adjectives that can be used to describe the Vernon High School tennis team’s 2023 season. After claiming the Class 3A Team Tennis State Championship in March, Lion tennis players captured four of the five crowns up for grabs at the Class 3A UIL Singles & Doubles State Tennis Tournament that was held Tuesday and Wednesday in San Antonio.
Nine Lion tennis players qualified for the state tournament and seven of them brought home gold medals, while two came home with silver medals.
Presleigh Smith made VHS tennis history as she captured the first-ever Girls Singles State Championship when she defeated Queen City’s Clare Wong, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
The Boys Doubles final also went three sets, but Vernon’s Dane Kieschnick and Max Jones prevailed over Wall’s Payne Smith and Bryson Hirt, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1. The two teams had squared off a couple of times in tournaments earlier this year, with Kieschnick and Jones not even taking a set from the Wall duo. With a gold medal and state title on the line, that changed.
In Mixed Doubles Kinsey Weatherly and Kell Castleberry cruised into the finals and right on to the state title as they claimed a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Little River Academy’s Hunter Bruggman and Kaylee Alexander. The Vernon duo didn’t lose a set in three matches.
The Girls Doubles final was an all-Vernon affair, with Audi Goodman and Kristina Urista defeated Paige Patterson and Aleya Goco, 6-4, 6-3. This was the third time the Vernon teams had to square off against each other. In the District 7-3A final, it was Patterson and Goco who picked up the win, but Goodman and Urista was the winning duo in the Region 1 final and again Wednesday at state.
Eight of the nine state qualifiers are seniors, as Castleberry is the only junior who will be returning next year.
At the state tournament, Vernon represented 13 percent of Class 3A state qualifiers; won 33 percent of the medals; and 80 percent of the state titles.
Historic! Record-Setting! Dominating! Indeed!!