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The Playmakers -- Brought to You by Cotton Industries
May 14, 2012By Matt Malatesta of VYPE MAGAZINE - South Houston
College Park’s Nick Naumann is arguably one of the most gifted prep tennis prospects in the state of Texas. Rather than competing on the high school circuit last year as a junior, Naumann opted to elevate his game by challenging as an amateur against some of the world’s best at ATP events. This year, the University of Texas-bound senior took his talents back to the high school ranks and finished second at the UIL state championships, falling to Tito Moreiras of San Antonio Churchill, 7-5, 7-5. In addition to UIL tennis, Naumann advanced to the second round at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in early April.
Not many student-athletes have the opportunity to end their season on a win, let alone a high school career. For Dulles’ Mariam Zein, she ended her senior season with a win on the biggest stage – the 2012 UIL state tennis championships. After cruising through the brackets, Zein knocked off Abilene’s Erin Walker in straight-sets, 6-4, 6-3, to clinch the UIL singles title. More impressively, Zein’s title was a historic win, not only for Dulles, but for the entire Fort Bend school district. With her straight-sets win, she became the first student-athlete in the district to win a state title in singles. Leaving Texas on a high note, Zein will join the Rutgers tennis team this fall.
Cy-Creek’s Matt Dunn has enjoyed quite the senior year. In January, the senior standout fired a blistering 61 at the BlackHorse Golf Club to establish a tournament-record en route to clinching the Texas Junior Golf Tour Q School Challenge. In April, Dunn completed his prep career at the UIL state championship held at the Onion Creek Golf Course in Austin, Texas, with a runner-up finish. Carding a first day score of a 69 and a second day score of 71, Dunn was forced into a playoff with Stratton Nolen of Austin Westlake. Nolen edged Dunn in a one-hole playoff to clinch the state championship, but Dunn’s future looks bright. Next fall, the senior will continue his golf career at the Air Force Academy.
At a state golf tournament, the odds are stacked against you as only one team can leave with a win. If you’re a “B” team, the state tournament often becomes a time to gain experience and prepare for next year. Somebody didn’t pass that memo to The Woodlands. Behind the play of Fernando Cruz, who carded a two-day score of 141 to clinch a bronze medal, the Highlanders claimed their fifth state championship with an eight shot win over Austin Westlake. Just a junior, Cruz will be back next year for the Highlanders and will attempt to lead the program to back-to-back state titles. Additionally, he’ll be one of the defacto favorites as an individual at the 2013 state championship.
Don’t blink. If you do, you might miss him. Hasting’s Ahmed Ali is the premier prospect in the 200-meter dash. During the indoor season this spring, Ali turned in a time of 21.33 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals – which marked the third-fastest time in the nation at the time. During the outdoor season, Ali has turned in numbers that are just as blistering. At the Alief Hastings Relays on March 3, Ali clocked a personal-best time of 20.59 to win the event. That time currently ranks as one of the fastest marks in the world this year. At the time that VYPE went to press, the University of Houston-commit had clinched the Class 5A Region III championship with a time of 20.79 and is one of the prohibitive favorites to win the UIL state title.