The Vandebilt Catholic Boys secured their second Louisiana Division II Boys Tennis State Championship title in as many years after a neck and neck finish with co-champions St. Michael. Both teams accumulated 11 points throughout the event and cherished the victory. For Terriers, it was the eighth state crown in school history.
It was once again the doubles players who made the difference for Vandebilt Catholic. In a rematch of last year’s doubles state final, Mason Melancon and Conner Doyle, defeated teammates Reese Dantin and Jacob Fournier to win the Louisiana Division II Doubles State Championship.
Mason and Doyle looked a class above opponents, beating a pair of teams from San Houston and others from Caddo Magnet and St. Michael en route to the final.
Dantin and Fournier overcame opposition from Assumption, West Ouachita, Neville and Ruston before falling short in the championship match.
Such a dominant performance drew deserved plaudits from Terriers’ coach Jake Clements.
“We had some pretty tough draws going in,” said Clements. “We knew it would be them or us, just as it was last year. Our doubles teams have been working hard. Doubles is always a point of emphasis for us and you can tell with our results. I am so proud of the boys. They had a bigger target on them because people knew what we were bringing and what we are capable of after last year. The kids all supported each other and it was a real team accomplishment.”
For Clements, the key ingredients to success were preparation, hard work and humility. The Terriers' tough schedule tests players’ endurance and mental strength. Competing in others events such as the 2015 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships Boys B Division, where Vandebilt Cathollic finished in 6th place was the ideal rehearsal for the state championships.
“Unlike other sports, these kids are expected to play three whole matches in the first day of the state tournament,” Clements said. “Physically, we prepare all year for that type of gauntlet. Mentally, it is tough because if you win, you are expected to play again within the hour. It’s easy to have letdowns after tough matches, so I have to stay in their ears and remind them to stay focused on our tennis and what we have control of.”
While the Louisiana Division II State Champion is looking forward to a well-deserved rest in the summer, Clements has already set his sights on the third consecutive title. He is sure his players will keep practicing even without his presence. But who would not, when a chance to make history and lift a beautiful trophy is within their grasp?
“The trophy is much heavier than it looks,” said a smiling Clements. “It’s such a special moment – a culmination of everything I put them through during the season. To take the trophy, hand it to my seniors, and see them walk over to the rest of my boys is very special. … Most of my players won’t play a meaningful match of tennis again once they leave high school. This is their Super Bowl, and being able to see them accomplish this goal is the highlight of my year.”