- Butch Hart, American-Statesman Correspondent
- Original Story Here
The recent University Interscholastic League realignment created an interesting paring in District 13-6A tennis.
Eight-time champion Westwood has had little competition for the better part of a decade. That changed when the UIL put state power Vandegrift in the revamped 13-6A landscape.
The Vipers will offer the sternest test yet for coach Travis Dalrymple and the Warriors, who have reached the regional finals in consecutive years.
"We have Vandegrift in our way," he said Dalrymple. "They are an incredibly strong team that only graduated two starters last year."
Vandegrift won arguably the toughest tennis district in the state last year that included Westwood and Lake Travis.
Westwood lost four players to graduation, but returns arguably the best girls player in the state — Kiana Graham, the 2017 Class 6A girls singles champion.
"Last year, we had a very young team," Dalrymple said. "We had an incredible year as the freshmen and sophomores really stepped up and improved throughout the year.
"The district championship will be very tough this year, but I love my team and the hard work they put in each and every day."
Gaurav Singh, a state semifinalist last season on the boy's side, teams with Graham for a formidable combination on the top lines of any competition. Dalrymple is counting on both Graham and Singh to provide the leadership for his current team.
Dalrymple also welcomes back seniors Michelle Duan and Sofie Kardonik, who made the state tournament last year in girls doubles, In addition, last year's district newcomers of the year Daniel Antov and Jessica Lu are "playing better than ever and are ready to provide our team with depth at the top of the lineup," according to Dalrymple.
Dalrymple indicated that despite the dog days of August, his team is putting in the time to be great.
"There are a lot of great teams in our district, and we are hoping to play great tennis with all of them," he said. "The kids have been having summer practices twice a week and they're telling me everyone from the top down is improving. We are very excited about this year."