Lady Eagle tennis finishes season at regionals


Courtesy of Sarah Gilliland

Head tennis coach John Gonzales stands alongside seniors Abi Dillehay and Berkley DeLong and juniors Sarah Gilliland and Shelbi Braudt after the district competition.

Varsity tennis players finished their season at the regional competition in Lubbock April 17-18. Senior Abi Dillehay placed fourth in girls singles, and senior Berkley DeLong and junior Sarah Gilliland competed in girls doubles.

At the district competition, Dillehay placed first, junior Shelbi Braudt placed third, sophomore Asher Melton placed fourth and DeLong and Gilliland placed second. Dillehay advanced to regionals her freshman year competing in mixed doubles. This is the first year DeLong has advanced to regionals. Gilliland advanced to regionals last year competing in girls doubles with her sister. 

“When Berkley DeLong and I first started playing together, we clicked,” Gilliland said. “Berkley told me that since it was her senior year, she wanted to go to regionals. I knew I had to work hard and help my senior get there.”

In preparation, DeLong and Gilliland received private lessons and attended after school practices in addition to their class period practices.

We stayed longer, worked harder.

— Berkley DeLong, 12

“Practice was no longer mandatory for some people, so it had been hard to get motivated with stuff like that,” DeLong said. “Having our other teammates around helped keep us motivated. We stayed longer, worked harder.”

DeLong and Gilliland took lessons from former head varsity tennis coach Gary Marable. Gilliland said Marable inspired a positive mindset she competed with at regionals.

“Last year, I went into the tournament scared about the outcome, and that was reflected by losing in the first round,” Gilliland said. “This year, my mindset was something that Coach Marable told me: ‘We are the underdogs here. We have absolutely nothing to lose. Let’s just play to win and have fun doing so.’ So that’s what we did.”