Senior Austin Carrola and Sophomore Kelsey Schwind have played singles through their school years, but this year friends, family, and coaches convinced the pair to team up for mixed doubles. Early season wins at Canyon Lake, Wimberley, and Fredericksburg cemented the plan to play doubles in the District 8AA tournament played in Junction on April 6. Carrola and Schwind defeated teams from Comfort and Ingram to take the district title.
At the regional meet in Odessa on April 20 and 21, they secured the Region I AA championship with wins over a team from Friona, one from Spearman, and two from Wall.
Next stop for this Panther pair... Lakeway World of Tennis in Austin on Monday, May 9. With the tournament running over two hours behind schedule, the long delayed quarterfinal match against Florence was a decisive 6-0, 6-0 victory for Blanco. The semi-final round against Franklin was played under the lights late Monday evening. The Blanco pair took the win, 6-4, 6-2.
In the finals on Tuesday, Carrola and Schwind faced their toughest opponents; the defending State Champions from Wall, Bryce Pfingsten and Emily Talley. The state final was a rematch of the regional semi-final fight that Blanco won in a close battle, 5-7, 6-4, and 7-6 with (7-3) in the tie-breaker for the third set.
With a nervous start, the Blanco duo fell behind in the first set, 1-4. Then the pair began to focus after a pep talk from Blanco tennis coach Stuart Schultz. Winning the next three games in a row, the score was tied at four all. The teams exchanged games to even the score at six all. Carrola and Schwind won the tie-breaker (7-4) to claim the first set, 7-6. The second set was close, but Blanco prevailed 6-4 to secure the match and the 2A State Championship in mixed doubles.
After receiving their gold medals, Schwind said, “This is a dream come true!” Carrola dedicated the championship to his mom.