Young Jordan team prepared for first state appearance

Posted 10/27/21

Jordan’s tennis program might be in its second year of existence but you wouldn’t be able to tell when you walk around at a practice.

The Warriors exude a relaxed confidence, having …

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Young Jordan team prepared for first state appearance

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Jordan’s tennis program might be in its second year of existence but you wouldn’t be able to tell when you walk around at a practice.

The Warriors exude a relaxed confidence, having fun but getting work in every day.

“We’ve really tried to instill a culture here where we are going to push to be our best,” said Jordan head coach Tyler Esterline. “We’re going to have goals right off the bat and we’re going to make sure we work on the things like doubles, where they can improve.”

The players have bought in to Esterline’s culture and the hard work has paid dividends already, as Jordan has a 20-1 record, won District 19-5A and has made it all the way to the Class 5A state tournament, despite having only juniors, sophomores and freshman on the team.

“It’s just impressive to me that we’ve been able to get this far because we have no seniors at all,” said Benji Guzman, a junior. We really learn a lot from each other. If one person does something really well and the rest of us don’t, we study it and get better and improve. We all help each other and we just keep getting better.”

Jordan dominated in the first two round of the playoffs, winning 10-0 in both before beating Lake Creek 10-6 and Baytown Sterling 10-5. Jordan then went on to top Friendswood 10-5 in the regional final to make it to state.

Despite the score lines not being that close, the Warriors faced a number of tiebreakers, especially in doubles, but were able to come out on top.

Ikshu Shandilya and her doubles partner Carrie Yang dropped the first set of their doubles match in the regional final, but turned it around in the second and third set to earn Jordan a point.

“The first set can make you a little nervous,” Shandilya said. “But when the nerves go away, it’s easier to be consistent. We do a lot of doubles drills and that helps with consistency. I also feel like when you lose that first set, you have nothing to lose. It lets me go for it and sometimes that works in our favor like it did last game.”

Jordan’s ability to overcome tiebreakers and match points was something Esterline was very proud of.

“We play a lot of tiebreakers in practice to ty and get comfortable in those,” Esterline said. “I’ve always believed that the one that knows what’s going on more usually has the upper hand on winning one. When you get to this point you are going to have close matches and teams are going to be just as good as us, so those are the things you have to practice the most. I’m just extremely proud of the way these kids never gave up. We fought off two match points in the regional final. It’s awesome that they have the fight already at this young age to push them over the top.”

The Warriors’ reward for getting to the semifinal is getting to take on the No. 1 ranked and five-time defending state champions Highland Park at Texas A&M on Thursday at 8 a.m.

The Scots have won 18 state tiles in the past 21 years and have qualified for 33 straight state tournaments.

“The fact that we’ve made it this far is an achievement in itself,” Shandilya said. “We’re going to go out there and have fun. This is our first state tournament so we are going to do the best we can, they’re a really good team so lets just see what we can do.”

That message was repeated by Esterline, who doesn’t want his players to feel pressure, but wants them to go out there, have fun and play to the best of their abilities. No matter what happens, he’s already proud of everything the team has accomplished this year.

“It takes the pressure off of us,” Esterline said. “The pressure is on them to be able to repeat, it’s not on us, we are here for the first time. We’re just hoping to gain the experience of what that is going to bring. I just want them to swing away. I’m excited about what our kids are going to be able to go out there and do when there is no pressure on them. I have full confidence in this team. We’re going to be in there and as long as we’re in it in doubles, we have a shot. That’s our goal, be in it at the end of doubles and let’s just see what happens in singles.”

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