After a Century, Scots Still Holding Court in Tennis

Decorated program opens 100th anniversary season this fall

The dominance of the Highland Park tennis program over the past few decades is reflected in the 21 fall team championships, the numerous spring individual titles, and the dozens of alumni who have competed at the college level.

Such success is a product of tradition and work ethic, but also longevity. The Scots will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the program this season.

HP began competing in 1922, and in the early years, counted SMU’s tennis team among its annual opponents. In 1947, the Scots claimed their first two state titles courtesy of Dixon Osborne in boys singles and Joan Akin and Carol Claybaugh in girls doubles. Since then, 54 more boys and girls championships have been added to the program’s ledger.

The Scots have particularly thrived in team tennis ever since the University Interscholastic League introduced the format in 1987. The Scots took their first of 21 team titles in 1989. Their subsequent dominance includes a current streak of five in a row at the Class 5A level. HP has qualified for 33 consecutive fall state tournaments overall.

Highland Park tennis players began competing in the 1920s. PHOTO: Courtesy HPHS Tennis

“There is so much tradition at our school, and to know that tennis’ unique success over the last century is a part of that makes it that much more rewarding to be a player in this program,” said senior Ray Saalfield.

Since arriving at HP more than 20 years ago, following a successful stint at the college level at Louisiana-Lafayette, head coach Dan Holden has amassed more than 400 match wins and 17 fall team titles.

“Every year, the team reshuffles with new players replacing graduating seniors, but we continue to produce the same outcome,” said senior Isabella McElfresh. “It’s a testament to the dedication and commitment from the players and coaches.”

The Scots graduated five primary contributors from the 2020 championship squad. However, plenty of talent returns seeking a sixth consecutive crown, including Saalfield and McElfresh, who were runners-up as a mixed-doubles tandem last spring. Regional semifinalists Eden Rogoninski and Briana Rees in singles and Leo Hall and Carl Newell in doubles are also back.

In addition to their District 13-5A matches this fall, the Scots will host Jesuit, Ursuline, Allen, Plano West, and Southlake Carroll.

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