Four Rio Grande Valley tennis players punched their tickets to the UIL Class 5A State Tennis Meet next month by earning top-two finishes at the Region IV-5A Meet on Wednesday at Northeast ISD Tennis Center in San Antonio.
The McAllen Memorial boys tennis program is sending three to the state tourney — Agustin Salazar in boys singles, and Arshaan Auf and Diego Salvo in boys doubles, while Rio Grande City’s Kayla Peña also earned a spot at state in girls singles.
Memorial’s Salazar (35-1) brought home the Region IV-5A boys singles championship for the Mustangs with a 4-0 run through the tournament that was capped off by a 7-5, 6-4 win over Gregory-Portland’s David Avalos in the final.
During team tennis competition in the fall, Avalos beat Salazar and entered regionals as the No. 1 seed with Salazar at No. 2.
This time around, however, Salazar avenged the loss in straight sets to be crowned the Region IV-5A boys singles champion.
“It was definitely very satisfying. After the match got done, I was very proud of myself,” Salazar said. “I improved in the past couple of months in between our last meeting, so it was really satisfying.”
Mustangs boys doubles teammates Auf and Salvo (35-2) earned second place by beating Corbin Adcox and Aidan Johannsen of Dripping Springs 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.
“Before that match, we played really well and we thought, ‘Hey, we played really well once, we can do it again.’ To achieve what we wanted, we got to play harder than we did before because every match is harder than the last,” Salvo said.
Auf and Salvo have known each other since elementary, so for the pair of sophomores to advance to state together in their first opportunity was special for the two.
“I’ve known my teammate since first grade. We’re friends on and off the court, so it was fun. We’re feeling very happy, and I guess relieved after some tough matches,” Auf said.
The last time Memorial sent this many qualifiers to state was four years ago, Memorial tennis head coach Rhodora Elizondo said.
“These kids are good players, very good, but more than that, the referees and officials talked to my assistant and told them they were so impressed by their sportsmanship and the way the kids carried themselves. They’ll win because they’re good players, but they also have good decision making,” Elizondo said. “They’re very smart kids and I am so proud of them.”
RGC’s Peña (34-2) punched her ticket to next month’s state meet by winning four girls singles matchups before falling in the regional final against Boerne-Champion’s Amber Lewis in a three-set thriller 6-7, 7-5, 6-2.
The UIL State Class 5A Tennis Meet is scheduled for May 20-21. The location of the state tournament is to be announced soon, according to the UIL website.
McAllen Memorial’s Ishaan Ramchandani (33-4) finished fourth in Class 5A boys singles with victories over Brownsville Veterans’ Patricio Castaneda and Cedar Park’s Jackson Woods.
Roma had two boys doubles teams win opening-round matches with Isaac Marquez and Angel Peña, and Leonardo Saenz and Juan Salinas. McAllen Rowe’s Carlos and Hugo Garcia also won their first round match over San Antonio Brackenridge’s Arthur Terrance and Jesse Zamora.
In Class 5A mixed doubles, the PSJA Memorial pair of Ian Cruz and Yolotzyn Alvarado, Roma’s Pablo Sanchez and Vanessa Baldazo, and Sharyland Pioneer’s Alyssa Cantu and Angel Martinez all won the first round before falling in the quarterfinals.
McAllen Rowe’s Diana Park (32-2) advanced to the girls singles quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Donna High’s Hiromy Rodriguez.
Roma’s girls doubles team Xenia Garza and Anayra Salinas (31-3) also reached the regional quarterfinals with a two-set victory over Brownsville Porter’s Elvia Cardenas and Maribel Ortega.
Harlingen High boys doubles team of Michael Sanchez and James Tanamacki (33-2) beat San Antonio Clemens’ Joey Gonzalez and Enzo McClelland 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round to advance to the quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual region champions Daniel Antov and Marko Mesarovic of Round Rock Westwood.
PSJA North’s Alondra Gonzalez (32-2) advanced to the girls singles quarterfinals by defeating San Antonio Health Career’s Sarah Byrd in two sets 6-4, 6-2.
Harlingen High’s Brandon De Los Reyes (33-2) advanced to the boys singles quarterfinals by taking down S.A. Health Career’s Arthan Rao 6-0, 6-0.