Avery Zavala stepped into rare air Thursday.
The Tascosa sophomore punched his ticket to the 2018 UIL Class 6A state tennis tournament overcoming a first set loss winning the Region I-6A boys singles title at the Arlington Tennis Center.
No 2 seeded Zavala, who breezed into the finals without losing a set in his three matches Wednesday, knocked off No. 1 seed Riley Tran of Keller 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday.
Zavala becomes the first Tascosa boys singles player earning a state berth in 13 years since his older brother, Josh, pulled off the feat in 2005.
“This feels really good to qualify for state,” said Avery who moved his singles record to 34-1 over the 2017-18 schoolyear. “I knew he was going to be seeded ahead of me but I wasn’t going to let that get into my head. Since I lost to him the first time I had nothing to lose.”
Zavala and Tran met last Sunday in non-school related match in a tournament with Tran coming out on top.
Tran had a rough road after his Wednesday semifinal win suffering full body camps and was carted off the Arlington Tennis Center in ambulance and taken to a hospital where he received IVs.
Zavala and Tran went toe-to-toe in Thursday’s first set with Tran pulling out the tiebreaker 7-5 by winning the final two points.
“I can’t believe he made it that far,” said Tascosa veteran tennis coach and Avery’s dad, Luis Zavala. “He went to the hospital yesterday. He played a heck of first set. He was playing unbelievable. It was a very physical match.
“Then on the first game of the second set he put his head down and called a time out. Was he cramping up or what? He kept fighting. I told Avery in the second set we have to grind more. Avery really starting hitting the ball in the second set. Avery was very aggressive at the beginning and took it to him.”
Zavala broke Tran’s serve early in the second set and used that early momentum breezing to a 6-1 victory. While set three was a little tougher, Zavala kept the pressure on Tran and closed out the match 6-3.
“Between the first and second and set I just played more positive,” Avery Zavala said. “And I just made it more physical. I was losing points in the first set and missing a lot of shots. In the second set and third I made him work for it.”
Avery Zavala reached the state tournament last year in mixed doubles and said his goal this year was to make it to state and hopefully reach the Class 6A finals.
“Reaching state was a goal of mine and now that I made it why not try to win it,” Avery Zavala said.
The Tascosa girls doubles team of Chloe Ruppanner and Sabrina Ritchie did all they could Thursday to have a chance to play for a state tournament berth, but didn’t catch a break from top-seeded Emma Gener and Jocelyn Thai of Plano West.
Ruppanner and Ritchie dominated their third place match winning 6-1, 6-1 against another Plano East doubles team in Estefani Hernandez and Janet Pham.
But unfortunately, the Gener-Thai team was upset in the finals leaving Ruppanner and Ritchie without an opportunity for a playback match with a state berth on the line.
“The girls played so well,” said Tascosa coach Luis Zavala. “They were aggressive and put it all together. We would have liked to have a chance for a playback but didn’t get the chance.”