Constant communication fuels Tiger duo
The Rockdale tennis coach points out that a big part of the Rockdale duo’s success in their drive to the UIL state tennis tournament has been the gift of gab.
“They have awesome communication,” she said. “They are good at that. They are always talking and that is extremely important in doubles. “When we first started playing together, we talked a lot and we just kept it up,” Flores said. “We let each other know what went wrong on the last shot and also kept each other up during the match.”
The senior Flores and the junior Gonzalez will talk it up in the mixed doubles portion of the Class 3A state tournament, with their first match coming at 12:30 on Monday at Penick-Allison Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Texas. They will face Samantha Wendt and Kenny Sweeny of Lucas Lovejoy, one of two Lucas Lovejoy mixed doubles teams at the state tournament.
Jeremy Rodriguez and Alexia Ceballos of LaFeria were also entrants last year.
Semifinals began at 3 p.m. with finals Tuesday at 9 a.m.
The twosome continued the Rockdale tradition of sending mixed doubles teams to the regional tournament for the fifth straight year, but started their own tradition by taking it one step further.
They are the first Tiger tennis players to journey to the state tournament since the doubles duo of Matt Sanders and Kurt Griesbach in 2004.
It hasn’t sunk in for coach or players that they will be participating in the state tournament come Monday at lunch time.
STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT
What— Class 3A State Tennis Tournament When— Monday-Tuesday, April 30-March 1. Gonzalez and Flores play at 12:30 p.m. on Monday. Semifinals are at 3 p.m. Monday. Finals are 9 a.m. Monday. Where— Penick- Allison Tennis Center, University of Texas. Participants—8 teams
“Not yet,” says Gonzalez. “I know that when we get there a lot of it will be mental, but we play a lot.”
“No, not really,” Flores says with a shy smile. “Maybe Sunday night.”
After losing in the grueling regional finals match to Trey Loewe and Daniella Bonilla from Bellville last Tuesday, the disappointed duo had to fight through their frustration and participate in a play-back match for a second-chance at a state berth.
“I was pretty down” Gonzalez said. “During the break I listened to music the whole time to try and forget about the finals.”
“If you get enough good shots it starts erasing the previous match,” Flores said. “I just focused on doing that.”
They recovered nicely, dispatching Amber Noble and Kamden Lucas of Center 6-3, 6-3.
Gonzalez and Flores understand the historical signifigance of returning Rockdale to the state’s highest stage.
“It feels good considering all the practice we’ve put it,” said Gonzalez. “We know Rockdale used to be good in tennis. We know about the Cookes.”
“It felt good when we found out that we were the first mixed doubles team from Rockdale to go to state,” Flores said.
“We made history... set a precedent.”
Flores played with Dylan Carter last year and Gonzalez was a singles player.
Flores—who made it to regionals with Carter in 2011— was looking for another partner and when Gonzalez’ boys doubles gig fell through, the two were placed together.
They both expected to play doubles so it worked out per- fectly.
“They clicked pretty much right off the bat. They had to fight their way through that first tournament in Taylor to win and that brought them together.”
Besides communication, Warner revealed there is one more positive tennis quality they possess.
“They can move... they can move,” Warner said. “There are a lot of players ripped and strong, but they don’t move as well. They can move.”