KRUM — When the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state tennis championships start today in Austin, Krum will have two doubles teams to represent the school in its final year in 2A.
Chris Atterberry and McKenna Barber are in the mixed-doubles bracket, while Zach Ripple and Tyler Sargent are in the boys bracket.
The last six seasons, Krum has sent at least one doubles team to the state tournament.
All six times, Krum has found itself short of a first championship.
Krum is moving up to Class 3A next season. The change in classification brings tougher competition and a steeper ascent to the state championships.
“We’re all thinking that this is our shot,” Krum head coach Steve Quy said. “It might be a while before we get this opportunity again, with 3A being so much tougher.”
Atterberry and Barber will face Sarah Crawford and Taylor Abercrombie of Tuscola Jim Ned in the quarterfinals.
Three years ago, it was a different Atterberry-Barber combo playing their way to a second-place finish at the state tournament.
Daniel Atterberry and Afton Barber — both the respective older siblings of Chris and McKenna — lost in straight sets to Franklin.
Three years later, Chris Atterberry and McKenna Barber began their road to state with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Franklin in the 2A Region II championships.
The younger Atterberry-Barber duo is 19-3 on the year and hasn’t lost since the Trophy Club Byron Nelson tournament in December.
When the time came to pick partners for the spring, it worked out where Atterberry and Barber picked each other. Both players were in need of partners, and after a tournament in Ennis, the experimental pairing panned out.
Barber, a senior, played singles last year and lost in the regional round. This season, Quy said Barber opted to play doubles instead, with the chances of advancing to the state tournament greater than playing singles.
With a region full of good singles players, Quy has his best players playing doubles, increasing the chances of sending as many kids as possible to state.
The trial pairing proved successful.
“She kind of knew, as well as I did, that it would be tough to get through,” Quy said. “As a senior, you want to be able to get to state. It kind of just fell together.
“Chris needed a partner, and she did, too.”
Atterberry, a junior, played doubles last season and lost to the same Franklin team of Brent Wallingford and Kayla Wallingford, the same duo Atterberry and Barber upset at the regional tournament this year.
If both teams win their first two matches, Franklin and Krum will once again face each other.
This time it would be for the state championship, where Barber and Atterberry can fully avenge their siblings’ loss in 2009.
“Our school is a lot about traditions, so it’s just cool to see us carrying on the Barber-Atterberry tradition, and we’ll see if we can medal at state, as well,” McKenna Barber said. “That would be awesome.”
As for Ripple and Sargent, they begin the boys doubles state tournament with a quarterfinal matchup against Tyler Keel and Collin McMullen of White Oak.
Sargent traded in his baseball bat for a tennis racket a year and a half ago, and has received some interest from Hardin-Simmons.
Ripple solidifies the other half of the pairing and drew praise from his head coach.
“Zach’s the best player we’ve had in a long time, if not the best Krum’s ever had,” Quy said. “He’s that steady player on the court we can always count on.”
If Ripple and Sargent advance to the finals, there’s a strong possibility the duo could face Gabe Knight and Josh Jones from Millsap.
Knight and Jones are 3-1 against Ripple and Sargent in head-to-head matchups, including a 6-3, 6-4 win in the Class 2A Region II championship match.
A Millsap-Krum rematch would be a rematch between Quy, 41, and his father, Don Quy, 65, who coaches the Millsap teams.
Both father and son have yet to win a state championship.
The last time Don Quy was at the state tournament was in 1984, when he was the head coach at Weatherford.
Steve Quy said him and his father have cautiously entertained the notion of playing each other for the state championship, knowing the path down the dwindling brackets is tough enough.
Steve said he’s happy a potential championship clash with his dad ensures the title will at least be held by a Quy, no matter the outcome.
“I would like it because I’d be happy either way,” Steve Quy said. “Obviously we want to win, but if I’m going to lose, it would be great for him to get it.
“He’s never won a state championship either. It’d be a good day either way.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .