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Friday, August 10, 2001

Eagles netters get new coach for fall season

Staff Writer

The Pecos Eagles' tennis team will have to be road warriors  this season, at least when the District 2-4A portion of their fall  schedule comes around.

The Eagles will have a veteran team for the first time in a while and will have a new coach, Mike Ortiz, who was the Pecos junior high tennis coach in the mid-1990s before returning this summer to replace Bernadette Ornelas as varsity coach.

The team began practicing on Tuesday, with their season opener tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24-25 at Fort Stockton. "Right now some of my kids are still working. We're having two practices a day and they're coming to at least one. But the kids are working real hard and I'm real excited."

Pecos won the district title two years ago, while advancing to regionals each of the past two seasons as runners-up in district to Clint. "Right now it looks like it will be either us or Clint. We didn't lose that many so we should be as strong or stronger than we were a year ago," Ortiz said.

"The top six are back for the boys and the girls I think we lost only one (senior Rebecca Wein), and she went to volleyball," Ortiz said. Wein was the Eagles' No. 1 seed during the fall season last year, while the No. 2 seed, sophomore Natalia Ornelas, is at tennis camp in Florida this week.

The boys' side will be where the Eagles will be looking for the most improvement, after the girls picked up the bulk of the singles and doubles wins for Pecos the past couple of seasons. Pecos returns No. 1 seed Trent Graham, who also was part of the No. 1 doubles team with Jay Dannelley during fall play last season. Orlando Mendoza and Stephen Lamb were the No. 2 seed in doubles as well as being the No. 3 and 4 seeds in singles play.

"Right now we have about 20 players, and I'm expecting about four or five more," Ortiz said.

The district tournament has been at San Elizario the past three seasons. San Eli doesn't have a team, but the trip has only been a six mile drive for Clint and Fabens and a 180-mile trip for Pecos. This year, the Eagles won't have to make that trip for the 2-4A tourney, but Ortiz said, they probably won't be playing in Pecos, either.

"District was supposed to have been here, but right now we're looking at probably having it at Monahans, because our courts won't be ready," he said. The school district has tentatively approved a $168,000 repair job for the Pecos High School tennis courts, which have large cracks down the middle and sides of the courts due to problems with the court's foundation. An effort to re-patch the tennis courts back in 1994 lasted only five months before the cracks reappeared.

Because the district tournament is supposed to be in Pecos, the Eagles' three pre-tournament matches, against Fabens, Clint and El Paso Mountain View, will all be on the road this season. District play is scheduled to start on Sept. 29 in Fabens, with the 2-4A tournament set for Oct. 19-20.

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