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.
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.
“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.