McMullen and Keel – 2nd in STATE!
White Oak doubles partners, Collin McMullen and Tyler Keel, finished second at the Class 2A UIL State Tennis Championships on Tuesday, May 1, at the University of Texas Penick-Allison Tennis Complex in Austin.
All five of White Oak’s state qualifiers made it to the final four at the state competition. McMullen and Keel, finalists, received silver medals. Teammates, Ian Story, boys singles, and Donald Griffin and Shelby Stillwell, mixed doubles, received bronze medals after being eliminated in the semifinals. This was the first year that every player advanced, and Coach Tammy Cloud contributed this achievement to their leadership, determination and strong work ethic.
Story opened the tournament with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Forsan’s Kyle Stevenson, but fell to Adam Lessner of Brock 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinal match.
Griffin and Stillwell notched a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 quarterfinal win over Lexington’s Mackenzie Brown and Eriq Mitchell after making a come from behind charge in the second set. “I knew we were the better team, but nerves and unforced errors were costing us. We had a meeting during the changeover and discussed how it wasn’t over until that last point and how much they wanted this win. They calmed down, and then they stepped up to take control,” said Coach Cloud. In a close semifinal match, Griffin and Stillwell came up short, 4-6, 4-6, against the Krum team of McKenna Barber and Christopher Atterberry.
McMullen and Keel began the tournament down after the first set, but then stepped up their game to defeat Krum opponents Zach Ripple and Tyler Sargent 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
The White Oak duo then faced Ethan Arismendez and Heath Holt of Idalou in the semifinals. “I believe it was the most exciting match and amazing comeback that I have ever seen in high school tennis,” stated Coach Cloud. “For them to lose the first set 3-6, and be behind in the second set 0-5, and then fight their way to a tiebreaker and win it 7-5, was truly unbelievable. I mean it’s almost impossible for something like that to happen!” With their teammates cheering them on every point, McMullen and Keel then won the third set 6-3 to be the first White Oak boys ever to make it to the finals of the State Tennis Championships.
In the championship match, McMullen and Keel were challenged by the team of Gabe Knight and Josh Jones of Milsap. It was neck and neck all the way to the end with White Oak losing the hard fought battle 5-7, 5-7. “We played a good team, and we played them very well! The whole tournament these two guys fought to the very end and never gave up no matter the odds against them. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that,” said a very proud Coach Cloud.