Jenks High School is the new Oklahoma Class 6A Boys Tennis State Champion. The Trojans' title run ended a three-year streak of finishing as runner-up. Jenks' victory also halted Edmond North’s five-year dominance, the Trojans collected 29 points, 7 more than second-placed Edmond Memorial.
When the Trojans’ coach Ron Acebo introduced new blood into the team, many feared the lack of experience would hamper their chances to succeed. As it turned out, the talented newcomers reinvigorated the team and brought the belief that this could be their year, long before the state championships started.
Jenks finished as runner-up at the 2015 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships Boys B Division. The result served as a confidence boost for the Trojans to make the push for the state championship. On the eve of the event, Ron Acebo was full of hope his team can handle the pressure and bring home the title.
“I think this team is a little bit more optimistic,” Acebo said. “I think they really believe they have a chance to win because Edmond North is no longer that dominant. In years past, it’s always been (Edmond) North having the big, dominant No. 1 and No. 2 singles and the No. 1 doubles, and this year it’s more evenly divided.”
Acebo's assesment was extremely accurate. Sophomore Scott Hjelm played a pivotal role in Jenks’ win, as his 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Edmond Memorial’s Blake Cherry in the No.2 singles final sealed the title for the Trojans. Braden Singleton and Daniel Archer also made a hefty contribution as they clinched the No.2 doubles event.
Since becoming Jenks coach in August 2007, it took Acebo eight years to deliver the first state championship title. Suffice to say, he was a happy and relieved man.
“We’ve come close so many times. I think we’ve maybe had five or six runner-ups,” Ron Acebo said. “I mean, we’ve always been on the cusp and it’s been real exciting to finally win it outright. That’s made it so much more special.”
Acebo went on to praise the players who won their respective events and propelled the Trojans to the top of the standings.
Hjelms battle with Cherry to clinch the title came with all odds against him. Cherry won convincingly won their previous meeting, earlier in the season, but Jenks’ sophomore adapted quickly to the conditions and dictated the rallies.
“It was more like I want to win for my team,” Hjelm said. “This win sealed it for us, so this is a big match.”
Acebo was impressed by Hjelm’s desire to win as he watched his player rushing to the net and hitting winners after winners.
“I saw a little bit of that throughout the season,” Acebo said. “He had some up-and-down matches, but when the young man is on, he is very hard to beat and he really showed it today.”
After years of finishing second in the state championships, Jenks took advantage of its opponents’ struggles and made one decisive step towards the title. Now that the ice has finally been broken, the Trojans are well-positioned to go on a lengthy winning streak in the years to come.