HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS: Langham, Van collect wins to punch ticket to regional tournament

MIDLAND When Zack Langham walked off the court after Thursday’s semifinal of the District 2-6A tennis tournament, a loss didn’t sit right with the Permian senior.

The top-seeded boys doubles team featuring Langham and Carlin Van left no doubt on the final day of the district tournament.

Van and Langham collected back-to-back wins in the third-place match and the playback on Friday at the Bush Tennis Center to earn a spot at the Region I-6A tournament in Arlington.

“After our loss (on Friday), I was really disappointed knowing that we were the No. 1 seed and we were supposed to win the tournament,” Langham said. “I knew we didn’t show up and I was hoping today that we could prove ourselves.”

The Permian duo proved that point as they defeated Jack Wall and Cole Carringer 6-2, 6-2 in the third-place match. Van and Langham continued that solid play against San Angelo Central’s Weston Grantham and Coleman White for 6-1, 6-2 victory in the playback.

Van said after Friday’s semifinals match with Amarillo Tascosa’s Chase Teeple and Jay Jaber, who ultimately won the district championship match, he and Langham didn’t play well at the same.

That changed during the final day of the tournament.

“You can usually tell when one person is playing better, but we both stepped up today,” Van said.

Van and Langham never skipped a beat, especially in crunch time. Grantham and White held a 40-0 lead in the fifth match of the second set, but the Panthers avoided four break points, won the match and grabbed a commanding 4-1 lead.

Meliton Morales — the head coach for Permian — knew at that point Van and Langham had put themselves into quality position to reach the regional tournament.

“That was definitely a big moment, because they came back from love-40 down and played some tough points in order to do it,” Morales said. “After that, they wanted every single point.”

For the second time in as many years, the Panthers have qualified a boys doubles team to the regional tournament. A year ago, Bryce Handy and Jake Anderson won the District 3-6A championship and this year Van and Langham will represent the Panthers.

“It’s great for us and it shows that we have a lot of kids that are eager to play doubles and they are excited for it,” Morales said. “I’m really happy that it’s starting to show.”

Van and Langham weren’t the only Permian players trying to reach the regional tournament.

Avery Marler, who finished third a year ago, was in another third-place match this time against Wolfforth Frenship’s Taylor Brown. The Lady Tigers No. 1 singles player defeated Marler 6-3, 6-2.

However, if Marler had won, she wouldn’t have received a playback opportunity since Addie Irwin of Amarillo Tascosa defeated San Angelo Central’s Grace Gideon for the District 2-6A girls singles championship. Gideon defeated Marler during Friday’s semifinals.

For Van and Langham, they are excited to reach their first regional tournament, which begins April 18 at the University of Texas-Arlington Tennis Center.

“We worked pretty hard, so I think we really deserve it,” Van said.

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