As we begin our coverage of the 20-year anniversary of the unprecedented athletic success of Ardmore High School in 1992-1993, we start with tennis.
In the last state championship sports weeks of the 1993 school year, both the girls and boys tennis teams completed an impressive run, bringing home state titles to go along with the boys track and field team for the spring season.
For the girls' team, it was more than just a year's process. After three straight runner-up finishes, head coach Sheri Mitchell's team finally broke through, with many of the same girls on the squad from year-to-year.
The Lady Tigers claimed state titles in No. 2 doubles (Amy Stout) and No. 2 doubles (Jill Carleton/Lisa Bartel), a runner-up finish (No. 1 doubles, Lowan Ly/Amanda Younts) and a fourth-place showing (No. 1 singles, Jeni Merrick) to win the title. The '93 girls' team was also crowned as academic state champions.
The boys' squad won their third consecutive state championship in '93 under the leadership of head coach Robert Meek, capturing titles in No. 1 doubles (David Wong/Joe Jordan) and No. 2 doubles (Tuan Pham/Matt Tunnell), along with a runner-up finish in No. 2 singles (Chris Galland) and a fourth-place showing in No. 1 singles (Raghuveer Reddy). The boys' team finished as runner-up academic state champions.
It was a special year for tennis, but for more reasons than on the court and in between the lines. Along with all other athletic teams at Ardmore, these student athletes were a close-knit group and remain that way today.
Here's a walk back through the spring of '93 in their words:
Setting the stage
David Wong, boys No. 1 doubles: "We were coming off of a state championship the year before (1992), and that was more of a surprise; no one expected us to win it. But '93 was different. We went from no pressure the year before, to huge expectations the next."
Jeni (Merrick) Baker, girls No. 1 singles: "As for the girls team, we had been runner up for three years in a row, so we were passionate about winning it that year (1993)."
Wong: "We all hung out. This wasn't a team where we just saw each other at practice and played in tournaments on the weekends together. We were all best friends and really cared for each other."
Lisa (Bartel) Wells, girls No. 2 doubles: "It was a great pairing of teammates. My doubles partner and I were paired perfectly. Our whole team got along well and we cheered each other to success."
Joe Jordan, boys No. 1 doubles: "The previous year we had won the championship, surprising everyone but our senior year we expected it. It's always special when you put that pressure on your team and end up successful."
(Bartel) Wells: "The moment when we were ready for the last match showed our focus for the entire year. We were all like "lets do this." I can't even describe it. It was wonderful."
(Bartell) Wells: "Coach (Sheri Mitchell) was like our mom. She was a special lady and took care of us. She taught us sportsmanship and how to play the right way."
Wong: "Coach (Robert) Meek was able to keep us focused and grounded. He was always there for us and we were always there for each other. We were a team."
Staying in touch
Jordan: "I still regularly talk to the guys on the team. I don't see everyone as much as I would like to, but we have continued to be part of each other's lives, regardless."
Girls coach Sheri Mitchell: "We had a special bond with each other. If I see one of them today, it's still something we all still share today."
Boys coach Robert Meek: "All of these kids have done really well in life, and it doesn't surprise me at all. They almost all had 4.0 grade point averages. They were really smart, hard working kids that were special to coach."
(Merrick) Baker: "It's something I'll never forget. I can tell you what each of us had on that day and everything about it. It was one of the better memories in high school."
Follow Carter on Twitter: @wcarterARD