The Middle School tennis team traveled to Midland College on Saturday, Nov. 11 to compete in Midland Christian Fall Middle School Invitational against nine other teams. The team came home with the second place overall Seventh Grade Team Trophy, finishing behind host Midland Christian but ahead of seven other schools including district rival Andrews, who brought over 35 players.
Leading the way for the young Panthers was seventh grade girls' singles player Melissa Villarreal, sister of senior softball player and Sul Ross signee Mary Villarreal.
“She had to win 5 matches to win the Championship over a Seminole girl beating Andrews along the way,” stated first-year Middle School coach Cindy Chavez. Panther Varsity Coach Philip Dodd drove the bus and has been working with the team some since September; he is excited to see the future high school players be successful this early.
Also in seventh grade, teammates JJ Pacheco and Jermiah Ramirez each won three times before falling in the semifinals and having to face each other for the third place medal.
“They both played really well to get to the semifinals, where they both ran into players from Midland Middle Schools who were good,” Chavez stated. "JJ actually had a chance against his player, but couldn’t keep the emotional part of his game in check and lost a close match.”
“When he learns to stay steadily and not let things affect him, he will be a great asset on the HS team." Dodd remarked.
Both have siblings on the HS team, with Pacheco’s sister Kaitlynn Pacheco playing on Varsity and Ramirez’s brother Christian Ramirez playing as well.
“Both boys will continue to get better and be tough by the time they get to High School," said Dodd.
In seventh grade girls' doubles, first time partners Angelina Duarte and Allyson Evans teamed for their first tournament experience and dropped their first match. They won their next three matches to come home with first place consolation medals and an excitement for the game.
“They kept getting better and learning each round,” Chavez said. “The other schools there have one or two middle school classes year round and play a full fall schedule. To compete against them this early is encouraging, and when we can get our program set up we will be the toughest team in west Texas.”
All team players for Fort Stockton:
First Place Girls' Singles - Melissa Villarreal
First Place Consolation Girls' Doubles - Angelina Duarte and Allyson Evans
Girls' Singles - Angie Aguirre
Girls' Doubles - Mayrene Bernal and Tony Carrasco
Third Place Boys' Singles - JJ Pacheco
Fourth Place Boys' Singles - Jeremiah Ramirez
Boys' Singles - Diego Balvantin
Boys' Doubles - Nevaeh Pineda and Nick Parker
Girls' Singles - Alexia Sanchez, Kate Colinayo, and Gabby Mendoza
Boys' Singles - Giovanni Muniz