COLLEGE STATION — Noah Wingate knows he’s in the middle of a once in a lifetime experience as he stands inside Texas A&M’s George Mitchell Tennis Center.
Even though the Robinson junior has experienced this moment three times.
As a freshman, Wingate advanced to the semifinals of the UIL state tennis tournament before winning silver as a sophomore.
Friday morning in College Station, Wingate had another silver medal around his neck.
“I love it,” Wingate said. “I love getting a medal and being able to come here. I’ve been lucky enough to do it three years. To get a piece of hardware from it is great.”
While Wingate has been on this stage more than most high school tennis players in the state of Texas, he still hasn’t quite got the handle on his nerves.
He laughed when he said he “was dying” his freshman year because he was “so nervous.”
And no matter how many times he tells himself he’s not nervous, he still is.
Despite those nerves, the experience gained from competing at such a high level has given Wingate more confidence.
“I can’t say that I’ve gotten better up to now,” Wingate said. “But I feel more confident coming in because I know what to expect and what the routine will be. It makes you feel better.”
Wingate started out his time at the state tournament with wins over Wharton’s Matthew Stephenson (6-2, 6-2) and Argyle’s Matt Hynek (6-1, 6-2).
That put him in the state final for the second-straight year, this time against Boerne’s Ryan Koth.
“He knows that it’s not going to be easy and works hard,” Robinson coach Jack Gregory said. “He doesn’t take anything for granted. He puts in the time off the court both physically training and mentally. He’s normally solid as a rock out on the court. He’s a little nervous today. He had some issues to start but he came back together in the second set. I’m just very proud of him.”
Koth cruised to a 6-0 victory in the first set.
But once the second set began, Wingate made the most of a clean slate to take a 2-1 lead.
“I looked pretty slow but I didn’t feel bad about it,” Wingate said. “I just needed some time to get into it. The second set looked a lot better. You tank a first set like that, you should come out and try your hardest in the second set to see if you can pull yourself up.”
Wingate battled through five deuces to take a 4-2 advantage, but Koth fought back to win four sets in a row to win the gold.
“The guy that he played today was a good player,” Gregory said. “Noah put all that he could into it. You regret a little bit that you didn’t get on into the first place but you can’t go away disappointed because of what he’s achieved.”
Wingate’s quest for state gold didn’t end Friday morning at Texas A&M.
He still has one more year to continue his spectacular high school tennis career.
“I love that I get him one more year,” Gregory said with a smile. “We just hope to take that one more step.”