Woodlawn’s Tennis Program has achieved many firsts over the past four years. The Panthers Tennis Program has traditionally been small, often not having the necessary number of student-athletes to fill a full team.
After a five-year span without tennis, the program was resurrected in 2018 and has quickly risen to heights never seen at Woodlawn High. The Medine twins, Halle and Leah, were a large part of the rebirth of the program.
“Going into high school, neither of us really expected to play high school tennis. We didn’t think there was a team because we didn’t hear anything about it,” reminisced Leah. “Coach Broussard brought it up to me one day because he heard from Coach Baronich that I played tennis. I was playing volleyball and lifting weights with Coach Baronich.”
The 2018 season saw Leah, as a freshman, reach the Regional Finals in the Girls’ Singles and advance to the State Quarterfinals. She topped her freshman campaign the next year, as she became the first Panther to win a Regional Championship. She went on to the State Quarterfinals again as a sophomore.
The 2020 season also saw a first for Woodlawn tennis. Spring sports were forced to end their seasons early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was difficult to imagine life going back to normal–student-athletes uniting to improve their skills, stands filled with cheering crowds, the unpredictability of the season ahead. The Panthers’ tennis team competed in only four matches before the season was abruptly cancelled.
Dylan and Brady qualified for the State Tournament by winning two matches at Regionals.
Though the 2020 season was cut short, the team has been raring to return to the court. Once restrictions eased, tennis players began practicing for the 2021 season in early January at Southern Oaks Athletic Club with Coaches Brent Broussard and Lucas Richardson. The enthusiasm to return is apparent looking at the impressive 2021 accomplishments.
The tennis program saw many improvements during the 2021 regular season. Even when the Panthers did not come out on top, the scores were much more competitive than in recent seasons. The hard work was then evident at the 2021 Regional Tournament.
For the first time in recent history, three doubles teams came away with victories at the Regional level.
The first team, senior Christian Jones and freshman Miriam Lindsay, finished their Regional run with a 1-1 record. Though they did not qualify for the State Tournament, it was quite an accomplishment to win their first round match!
Woodlawn’s second court boys’ doubles team were perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament. Coming into the tournament, Dylan Aucoin and Brady Bertrand had played only one match together. However, their athleticism and enthusiasm were apparent, as they advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals. Their two wins were enough to qualify them for the Division II State Tournament.
Finally, senior twins Halle and Leah Medine finished the Regional Tournament with a 4-0 record. After receiving the #1 seed in the tournament, the girls were given a first round bye. The Medine’s dispatched the competition rather easily, not losing a single set in the entire tournament. In the finals, the girls started slow against ED White. After falling behind 3-2, the Medine’s won ten of the final eleven games for the 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Winning the Regional Championship once again set some firsts for Woodlawn High School. Leah became the first two-time Regional Champion. The girls were also the first Regional Doubles Champions in school history. Finally, Halle joined her sister as the only two Regional Champions from Woodlawn High School.
Bertrand and Aucoin and the Medines qualified for the State Tournament thanks to their finishes at the Regional Tournament. The four state-qualifiers matches the number of qualifiers from 2018 and 2019 combined.
Halle and Leah entered the Division II State Tournament as one of the four seeded teams. The girls had three relatively easy wins on day one of the State Tournament, only dropping two games in their three matches.
Day two brought a familiar opponent, as the Medine’s faced their Regional Semifinal opponent from ED White. With a large crowd on hand, nerves and the “bright lights” got the best of the Medine’s during he first set, as they fell 7-5. However, Halle and Leah fought back to win the second and third sets 6-1, 6-4 to move to the Division II State Finals.
Seniors Leah, Christian, and Halle pose for a picture at the 2021 Regional Tournament.
“The competition was definitely harder at State, and it was my first time there,” said Halle. “I was very nervous in a lot of our matches, especially the semifinal match. That was something we had to work through.”
The 6-2, 6-0 win over Neville’s first court in the finals brought Woodlawn High its first State Championship in tennis.
Going through the process of rebuilding the program, followed by the year that was 2020, closing out their high school career as State Champions was extremely significant to Halle and Leah.
“I don’t know if it has completely hit us yet, but it is super-awesome,” Halle explained. “Just knowing that we can take this championship away from our entire high school career and our entire tennis career.”
Even with all of the wins and championships for the Panthers this season, they perhaps have an even more impressive stat. Despite the major focus on winning, the team was able to achieve an overall GPA of 3.9. Eighteen members of the 2021 tennis team also took advanced level courses this year, with several earning future college credit.
As the three senior girls prepare for life after high school, they leave behind a flourishing team of nineteen that has grown from nine their freshman year in 2018. The team will look to continue to improve as practices at Southern Oaks will begin in August of 2021 instead of January of 2022.
Like in all sports, experience in tennis is often the difference between a win and a loss. The mental aspect of the game of tennis is often overlooked as most players do not think much about what they are doing on the court. In big matches, nerves often creep in and overshadow any strategy that players worked on before the match.
Halle Medine experienced these nerves at this week’s Division II, Region 3 Tournament. Luckily, she leaned on her twin sister, Leah, for support when the stakes got high.
Leah has felt Regional pressure before. She was the Division II, Region 3 Girls Singles Runner-Up her freshman year and won the title of Regional Champion her sophomore year. Both years, Leah finished as a State Quarterfinalist.
“Leah has more experience in big matches than Halle,” said Head Coach Brent Broussard. “Halle had some nerves early in a few of the matches, but she was able to settle down as the matches went on. Leah having that experience certainly helped settle Halle.”
The Medines were given the number one seed by the coaches at the tournament seeding meeting which was held before the tournament. This ensured that they would not have to face another seeded team on the first day of the tournament and also gave them a first round bye.
After a slow start in their first match, the twins finished strong, moving to the quarterfinals of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-0 victory. The victory also booked their ticket to the State Tournament. Their second match of the day ended with the exact same score to send them to the Semifinals.
Day two of the tournament started with Halle and Leah facing the fourth seeded team in the tournament. The girls moved onto the finals with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
In the finals, nerves slowed the path to victory, but could not stop it. After a shaky start, the Medines were down 3-2 in the first set. Halle and Leah won ten of the next eleven games to claim the championship with a 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Sophomores Dylan Aucoin and Brady Bertrand qualified for the 2021 Divison II State Tennis Tournament.
In the boys doubles draw, the second court team consisting of Dylan Aucoin and Brady Bertrand qualified for the State Tournament by advancing to the Quarterfinals of Regionals with two wins. The boys rolled through their first round match with a 6-0, 6-0.
The second round match, with a trip to the State Tournament on the line, was much more difficult. The Panthers dropped the first set 4-6, before storming back to win the second set 6-1. The third set tiebreaker came down to the wire, with Dylan and Brady coming away with the 10-8 win.
Other top performers from Woodlawn’s Tennis program were Christian Jones and Miriam Lindsay, who finished the tournament with a 1-1 record and fell just short of qualifying for the State Tournament, and Maxwell Bayles, who played an exciting two hour match before bowing out by the score 7-6 (4), 7-5.
The Panther Tennis team is looking to make up for lost time on the court. The 2020 season was shut down prematurely due to COVID-19; the Panthers were only able to complete four matches before the season was cancelled.
“Our student-athletes, coaching staff, and parents were all disappointed when the season was cancelled last year,” commented Coach Broussard. “The program is excited that we are back on the courts.”
The Woodlawn Tennis program began practicing for the 2021 season in early January. For the third consecutive year, practices are being held at Southern Oaks Athletic Club. SOAC’s Director of Tennis, Luke Richardson, returns for his third year as Assistant Coach.
The Panthers will once again lean on Leah Medine to lead the program. Leah, now a senior, has been a part of the program since its rebirth in 2018. Leah advanced to the Regional Finals as a freshman, and was the Regional Champion as a sophomore. She was a State Quarterfinalist each of those years.
For the first time in her high school career, Leah is expected to play doubles with her twin sister, Halle. Halle has experience playing doubles; she and her partner, Elsa Pearce, were ranked second in the 2019 Regionals.
Senior Christian Jones also brings experience and enthusiasm to the program as she enters her third year of tennis.
Cameron Lindsay prepares for a point at the 2019 Regional Tournament.
Junior Cameron Lindsay will be the most experienced player on the boys’ side. Cameron qualified for the 2019 State Tournament as a freshman with his partner, Jacob Barnes.
Juniors Mason Watson, Jamarion Johnson, and Devin Trim all enter their third season with the Panthers. These three Panthers look to continue to improve their tennis abilities each match.
Woodlawn will also look for contributions from several newcomers. Sophomores Katelyn Fontenot and Julie Russell each participated in last year’s shortened season and look to continue to improve their game. Freshman Miriam Lindsay comes from a tennis family and brings experience to the team. Sophomore Maxwell Bayles has also shown flashes of promise at practice.
Matches for the Panthers will begin on February 8th versus Central High School. Matches will continue through April, with Regionals the week of April 19th and the State Tournament the week of April 25th. Since 2018, the Panthers have improved on the number of State Qualifiers each year. This year looks to be no different, as expectations continue to increase.
While matches are a big part of the tennis season, the Woodlawn Tennis Program has always focused on providing a fun atmosphere where the student-athletes have positive experiences while playing tennis.
The program also stresses academics. The program boasts a Fall Semester GPA of 3.85, and 100% of the student-athletes who participate in tennis also take Advanced Level courses at Woodlawn High. Students interested in participating in tennis are encouraged to see Coach Broussard or contact him via email.
With the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year comes the beginning of 2018 Fall Sports. Cross Country, Football, Swimming and Volleyball seasons begin in August. Practices for all four sports are currently underway, with the first official contest for each of the sports taking place in the final week of August.
Students interested in participating in any of these fall sports are invited to contact the prospective head coaches. While some sports have limitations on students returning to Woodlawn High School, all freshmen and new students are invited to participate.
Students interested in running Cross Country should contact Coach Rogers ([email protected]). Coach Rogers can be found in the library throughout the school day.
Coach Luquet ([email protected]) is the Head Football Coach. Coach Luquet invites all new students and all freshmen who are interested in playing football to speak to him in the courtyard before school or during either lunch shift.
Ms. Heyer ([email protected]) invites all students, new or returning, who are interested in swimming to see her in room 1208 during their lunch shift.
All new students interested in playing volleyball should see either Coach Malpica ([email protected]) or Coach Gonzalez ([email protected]). Coach Malpica can be found in room 1211, while Coach Gonzalez can be found in the gym.
In addition to the four sports beginning now, several other sports will begin practice and contests during the fall semester. Wrestling, led by Coach Guidry ([email protected]) can begin practice on October 1st. The boys and girls basketball teams can begin practice on October 8th. Students interested in basketball should contact Coach Fernandez ([email protected]).
Boys and girls soccer will be the next sports to begin practicing, with the first official practice date set on October 22nd. Female students interested in playing soccer this year are asked to see Coach Hampton ([email protected]) in room 206 as soon as possible. Male students should listen for upcoming announcements from Coach Barnes ([email protected]).
Powerlifting will begin in November. Athletes interested in powerlifting should speak to Coach Baronich ([email protected]).
While bowling, golf, and tennis will not begin until the spring semester, interested students are invited to contact their coaches now. Prospective bowlers should contact Coach Gonzalez. Coach Malpica should be contacted by any interested golfers. Any students interested in joining the tennis team should contact Coach Broussard ([email protected]).
With the multitude of fall sports going on at Woodlawn, the hope is that every student is able to find something to interest them!
Woodlawn High School is finally bringing back tennis! Ms. Bailey, one of the Woodlawn English teachers, is going to be coaching the new team. Because Ms. Bailey played tennis herself, she decided to organize a team and would love to share the sport with interested students. Tennis, which was once a mainstay in the athletic program, is back again at Woodlawn, and Ms. Bailey is excited to guide and teach young Woodlawn students.
Tennis was created in 1879 and has a lot to do with hand eye coordination and being alert. Tennis can be easy to pick up on and a lot of fun, all while hitting the ball back and forth behind the net. It is a great exercise and another way to get out the house. To be on the team students must have a 2.5 G.P.A. and a real drive to play and work hard. Students must bring their own rackets and practice clothes, along with a positive attitude.
Ms. Bailey is excited and cannot wait to meet her team and start coaching. The new coach has set several team goals: having fun, working hard, creating a positive environment, and learning about tennis! All students are welcome to join, even if they do not know how to play. Tennis is very easy to learn and a lot of fun once you learn the sport. Come out and join the team to have fun with tennis. You could even meet new friends. The signup sheet is on the door of room 408, so hurry and come join the team!