The entire Hillcrest High School tennis team advanced to the Class 5A state tennis tournament this spring.
While that’s a historic accomplishment for Zane Kohrs and Anne Gilliam, it might be a little misleading. You see, the two players comprise the entire squad for the Panthers.
Gilliam won the Region II title in girls singles, while Kohrs was the runner-up in boys singles, allowing them to share the milestone when both travel to College Station beginning Monday.
“It feels good to represent someone other than yourself,” Kohrs said. “It’s a good achievement knowing that you’re the first to do something.”
It’s fitting that Kohrs, a junior, and Gilliam, a sophomore, qualified for their first state tournament in the same year. They live only a block apart and have been friends through tennis for almost 10 years. Last year, they even competed together in mixed doubles for Hillcrest, finishing third at regionals.
“It feels more comfortable,” Kohrs said. “If one of us went by ourselves, then maybe nerves would kick in.”
Both players work out with private coaches after school, and compete year-round in select tournaments on the weekends.
So while success isn’t anything new, reaching the state tournament for their school still means something. And it caps a spring that saw Kohrs and Gilliam win their respective divisions at tournaments in Prosper, Arlington, and Dallas during the season.
They enjoyed the doubles experience, but both players admit their styles are probably a better fit for singles.
In Gilliam’s case, she started playing at age 7 while following her older brother, who now plays tennis at UT-Tyler. She has since played in national tournaments in Florida and California, in addition to a clay-court event in Virginia.
“Tennis was the only sport I ever played,” she said. “I liked being able to do everything on your own and not having to rely on anyone else.”
Kohrs played baseball and soccer when he was younger, but dropped them both after becoming interested in tennis at a summer camp.
Hillcrest volleyball coach Diana Davis is also the school’s tennis coach, but she admits that her duties in this case are strictly administrative.
“I feel happy to have them,” Davis said. “I like watching them play. They represent Hillcrest in a very positive manner.”