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Girls Just Want to Have Fun: Lady Panthers dominate in dual match with Plano
In a dual tennis match, it often takes equal contributions from the boys and girls to win.
And while the Plano East boys captured their fair share of matches Tuesday against Plano Senior (1-2 in district), the Lady Panthers weren't in a particularly big need of help as they swept all nine of their matches in straight sets to pace East (3-0) to a 15-4 victory.
"East has a really good team this year," said Cliff Lazarine, Plano head coach. "They are solid No. 1-6 and really have no weak players."
The East girls got their run going in doubles, giving up only six total games in straight-set wins by Ashwini Kulkarni and Agata Jakubowska (No. 1), Wadzi Thembani and Emily Johnson (No. 2), Sharon Heber and Alison Vo (No. 3).
Things would be more competitive elsewhere on the doubles court.
While East picked up two more wins with Brendan Hopper and Miles Lee (No. 2 boys) and Vishal Menon and Varun Srinivasan (No. 3 boys), Plano found success in No. 1 boys and the mixed to trail 5-2 at the turn. The latter encounter featured the match of the day as Plano's Justin Thai and Kristina Shteyn defeated East's Karan Bindra and Ryana Patel (6-3, 2-6, 11-9).
"That was a really great match; our team played well in the tiebreak," Lazarine said. "And it was a big win for us because that is the first time we put those two together. We needed to pair them because of an injury and an illness and they responded well."
No. 1 boys was another victory for the Wildcats with Paul Hainey and A.J. Liu as the duo improved to 2-1 on the season by picking up a straight-set win.
"Those guys played great," Lazarine said. "On the doubles end they mesh well because they are both smart, have very few errors and keep the ball in play, but are also both very aggressive."
Hainey (2-1 in singles) and Liu (3-0) accounted for three-fourths of Plano's points after both notched singles victories. Liu won in straight sets while Hainey defeated East's Triston Liu in a rarity of a breaker (6-4, 5-7, 10-0).
"I haven't seen that 10-0 score too often," Lazarine said. "If you are close enough to make it to a tiebreak, it has got to be pretty rare to then win 10 straight points."
That success aside, the rest of singles play was controlled by East.
On the boys side, Srinivasan (No. 3), Hong (No. 4), Hopper (No. 5) and Lee (No. 6) each won in straight sets. That formula was followed and expanded on by the Lady Panthers with each singles match ending in two sets. For East, Kulkarni (No. 1), Jakubowska (No. 2), Patel (No. 3), Heber (No. 4), Vo (No. 5) and Thembani (No. 6) all won after allowing a combined 17 games to the Lady Wildcats.
Those wins finished off a 15-4 East victory.
"We have some injuries, so we are in a little bit of a hole to start," Lazarine said. "Give credit to East though because they played very well. I thought we played well too though and we are continuing to get better each week."
East is back in action at 4 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts McKinney Boyd.
The Panthers are tied for the District 10-5A lead with Plano West, which Plano will host at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.
"We want to win every point, every game, every match we can and that will be no different against West," Lazarine said. "I think there are definitely some matches we can win against West, but more important than that is the fact that facing better teams and players is the best way to improve. Obviously we want to get better and this is a good way to see what we need to improve on."