Auburn High’s tennis players and coaches have worked to make the teams stand out among the best of the best in the state. As a result, two players and one coach have been chosen among Alabama’s best of the best.
Auburn tennis players Tanner Debardelaben and Jane League have been chosen to the South teams for the AHSAA North-South All-Star boys and girls tennis squads. Additionally, boys coach Matt Hooper was chosen as the coach for the South boys team.
In total, the four teams are comprised of rising seniors who were chosen by a special coaches committee from nominations received from AHSAA member school tennis coaches. The All-Star teams won’t face off this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the honor remains for those chosen.
“It’s a complete honor to be selected among the best in the state. I’m humbled as there are some really great players that have been selected,” League said. “This was my first year at Auburn High School. It was great getting to know the players on the team. Before the season, we worked very hard to improve as a team. We were excited to win two of three tournaments before the season was cut short.”
Debardelaben has been a part of the boys program for several years now, and he thanked the program’s coaches and his teammates for helping him reach this level. He said the year saw the boys team come together as a whole, and even though they didn’t get a shot at winning a championship there were positive strides made in that direction.
“Our main goal was to win state. Even though it was a short season, our team still had a lot of fun while it lasted and made a lot of memories along the way,” Debardelaben said. “Since we were not able to reach our goal this year, it motivates us to work harder to win state next year.”
Hooper said as much as it meant to be named the South coach in his 10th year of coaching, he said the real joy came in seeing Auburn players be picked. Those players have been pivotal in both Auburn teams’ success of late, and their selections make for a promising 2021.
Hooper is especially in good position going into next year, as Auburn is only losing one senior. Given that and the excitement he’s seen from his returning players, Hooper is practically counting down the days until he and his players can return to the court.
“Whenever we got the notice that our season was over, I got a text really quickly after that from one of my players basically saying, ‘We’re ready for next year. We need to start as soon as we can,’” Hooper said. “It was a big motivator for us because we felt like we had a really great shot to win state this year and compete in Mobile. I think it just lit a fire under our guys.”