By Ron Cioffi
Last year captain Tryone Powers was sizing up a shot at the USTA Texas 8.0 Mixed Doubles Championship. In the last match of the semifinals, Powers and his partner had a 9-6 lead in the third-set match tiebreak.
Oops! They lost three straight points.
As the tiebreak dragged on, Powers ended up having seven match points. Seven times, the opening to move to the finals was quickly slammed shut. When the match was over, his Browsnville team had lost 19-17 and was eliminated from competition in the deciding match.
“That team got to seconds in Nationals, so we didn’t feel that bad,” Powers explained. “But, it was the longest match of my life.”
Powers recalled the drama. “At 9-6 I felt pretty confident. But they came up with the shots. I’ve got to give them credit. … We had one match point when the woman on the other team framed a shot and it ended up a wicked slice winner. She hadn’t hit a shot like that in the whole match.”
He talked out this year’s Texas Section tournament. “We had three third-set tiebreaks. (My partner and I) were down 8-9 in our match but we pulled it out 11-9. I had the opportunity to win and I didn’t let it go.”
Powers said his team has just learned to live with the pressure. “We’ve been at it for 15 years. Last year we made it to the semis. This year we’re at Nationals.”
Powers and many other players have been on the team for more than a decade. The core of the present team has been together three years.
Another important bond for this veteran team is high school sports. Powers is the tennis coach at Hanna High School in Brownsville, and many of the other players have connections to the school, either as alumni or their children are going to school there. Another team member, Mike Salinas, is the coach of Sharyland High School.
In addition, Powers’ name is almost the same as the famous movie star of the 1930s and 1940s, Tyrone Power. “Blame it on her,” he yelled jokingly. He pointed to his mother, who had traveled from Tennessee to watch her son in Tucson, Ariz.