Crawford state tennis

Crawford will send eight players to state, including (from left) Joe Edwards, Hogan Hall, Jackson Reynolds, Haley Vaughn, Taylor Westerfeld, Anne Wiliams, Maden Abel, Blair Brunson and Ana Maddox.

Special to the Tribune-Herald

Sadly, only Taylor Westerfeld mentioned bacon.

A handful of the seven other Crawford tennis players who advanced to the UIL state tennis tournament that takes place Thursday and Friday in College Station mentioned pancakes — plain, no add-ins like blueberries or chocolate chips — and eggs as their preferences. No, the Pirates aren’t putting together their breakfast order to call in to IHOP for Thursday morning to fuel what they hope will bring four medals home to Crawford.

Instead, they’re placing their order with the head coach. Yes, Jeff Coker is cooking them breakfast.

“I found out the hotel we’re staying at does not have breakfast,” Coker said. “I accidentally booked an extended stay place, so it has a full kitchen. I’m just going to make breakfast because it’ll be cheaper than going out to get it.”

While Wheaties aren’t on the menu, they’re hoping it will be the breakfast of champions. For the first time in Crawford’s history, a school-record eight players qualified for state on four different doubles tandems — the boys doubles team of Jackson Reynolds and Hogan Hall, girls doubles duos Blair Brunson and Westerfeld along with Haley Vaughn and Ana Maddox, as well as the mixed doubles squad of Anne Williams and Joe Edwards.

They’ve been tagged the “Eight to State.”

“This year we have a ton of really good athletes who came out to play tennis,” Coker said. “They’ve been successful. In the years past, and even with Joe (Edwards) and Jackson (Reynolds), you have kids that have played for their whole (high school) career. Then as juniors and seniors they start seeing a lot of success. It’s been good for them.”

Of the eight heading to College Station, only two of them have advanced to state before, the mixed doubles tandem of Edwards and Williams. A year ago, their first match was against a top-ranked Mason team that is the tennis powerhouse in Class 2A. Edwards and Williams dropped that match, 6-3, 6-0, as the Mason duo they faced went on to win the state title.

“It was really cool to see how good people that were there were and all the competition,” Edwards said. “It was a good confidence-booster. It was like, we’ve made it once, so we can make it again.”

The Pirates took five different teams to regionals. Four of them advanced to the finals, with the girls doubles teams playing each other. Everything that could happen, happened, as they each qualified for state.

“Joe and Ann won (their finals match), so they were excited because they knew they were going to state,” Coker said. “Haley and Ana beat Taylor and Blair. Taylor and Blair had to win a playback to qualify for state. Then Jackson and Hogan lost in the final, but they avoided having a playback.

“We knew halfway through that match that they were going even if they lost. It was all the different emotions you could have on that day. We covered them all.”

While Edwards and Williams are in their second year as a team, the rest of the Crawford doubles teams are each playing their first seasons together. Hall has played varsity singles but never advanced out of district. This year, paired with Reynolds who is in his first year playing varsity tennis, Hall has qualified for both regionals and now state for the first time.

Maddox and Vaughn are both playing tennis for the first time in their high school careers, as are Brunson and Westerfeld.

“It’s been really fun the learning process we’ve gone through together,” Maddox said. “We played volleyball together. We’re really close.”

Along with Maddox and Vaughn, Westerfeld and Williams also played on the state champion volleyball team in the fall, coached by Coker, with Brunson serving as manager.

“It’s kind of cliché about how success breeds success, but it’s really true,” Coker said. “We just have so many good kids and good families in this community that just a lot of successful things are going on right now.”

Westerfeld, a freshman, has put together a memorable start to her high school career. She’s already achieved a state title ring with volleyball and now has a chance to medal at state tennis, a sport she decided to try because she’s tall, so she thought she’d be good at it.

“This year is the first time I’ve ever picked up a racket,” Westerfeld said. “Now I’m going to state. It’s crazy, I didn’t expect this. I expected to go to regionals but not state. … It’s very surprising what’s happened this year. I’m truly thankful I could go to state in both sports that I enjoy.”

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