Courtesy of Tarleton Sports Information

The Tarleton State TexAnns tennis team finished No. 23 in the NCAA’s year-end Division II poll.

“We were not ranked in the top 25 in April, but a strong finish helped us push past the No. 25 mark,” said Tarleton tennis head coach Lance Drake. “It is a testament to the determination of our players and the desire to compete on the highest level. It is not where we ultimately want to finish, but I feel this was a good accomplishment for the team considering what we lost last season to graduation and our youth.

“We were ranked for most of the year in the 30s before being removed from the top 40 in April. We lost some close matches to quality teams during the year, but were able to make up ground at the end of the year. We finished ahead of some very good teams. This team was challenged and they responded. For their efforts they were able to earn a berth in the national tournament for the fifth consecutive season,” Drake said.

Sophomore Chrissie Cooper finished No. 8 in the region as a singles player. She jumped seven spots from No. 15 in the final weeks of competition.

“Chrissie finished the year strong,” Drake said. “She was one of our most consistent performers and earned a well-fought victory in singles at the NCAA Regional, which almost propelled the team to the finals. If her determination to improve remains strong, she will be difficult to beat in her final 2 seasons.

“(Junior) Shannon Wallis came in at No. 15 in the rankings. This was a learning year for Shannon as she played No. 1 for most of the year. Athletically she is plenty capable of playing in that position but needs to improve her game in a few areas this summer in order to make a strong statement at this position in the lineup next season. She has the competitive desire to be able to accomplish this goal,” Drake said.

Shannon Wallis and Melanie Zilles finished the season as the No. 5 doubles team in the region.

“They had a good year but lost some close matches throughout the year which cost them,” Drake said.

“Melanie and Shannon are the type of players who have the ability to compete and win with the top teams in the country. They do some very good things, but need to continue making strides in their game in order to compete with those teams on a consistent basis,” Drake said.

The TexAnns ended their season after making their fifth straight trip to the NCAA regional tournament. Tarleton finished the season with an 11-8 record and were ranked fifth in the final regional poll. The TexAnns will lose just one player, senior Diane Hawkins, to graduation going into the 2007-08 season.