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While things didn’t turn out quite the way the Bulldog tennis team had hoped Monday in the District 4-AAAAA Team Tournament championship in Lovington, their runner-up finish was enough to punch their ticket to state.

Now, both the ‘Dogs and Lady Bulldogs are setting their sights on the Class 5A solo event, as they head to Roswell Saturday for the D4 Individual Tourney.

While there’s plenty of pressure to go around in a competition where each player is battling for themselves alone, there’ll be a bit more on the Lady ‘Dog athletes, who were unable this season to qualify for state as a full squad.

“On the girls’ side, this is their only chance to get to go to the state playoffs – as individuals,” head coach Tim Trentham said today. “I’m really hoping they can step up, rise to the occasion, and fight for themselves and for the opportunity to continue their season.”

The boys, meanwhile, who fell to Lovington 5-0 Monday in the team final, will be seeking the opportunity to enhance their state experience with additional competition.

“This is a chance for them to extend their state play from being just the team tournament,” said Trentham. “You don’t want to have the entire team sitting around watching one kid for two days; it’s better that everybody is up there getting the chance to play.”

The district individual tournament is a seeded and bracketed event that finds players from the lower end of each team’s pecking order squaring off against the top-ranked.

“It’s really kind of tough, because team play doesn’t really prepare you for it,” Trentham said. “It’s more the different tournaments we go to over the regular season that are similar. So what you’re going to see tomorrow is low seeds playing against high seeds, and it’s just a variety of experience of play.

“The lower end is always nervous; they kind of get shocked, especially if they’re new and don’t understand the way an individual tournament works. But there’s always a chance you could have a No. 6 upset a No. 1 just because the 1 has never played that kind of person before.”

As the tournament progresses, Trentham says, athletes will likely begin to see players they’ve faced previously this season.

“So that gives you a little bit of an advantage going into the later matches, but in those early matches, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Trentham says both the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs’ top ends and upperclassmen are in a good frame of mind heading into tomorrow’s competition, and he expects positive results.

“There’s a little bit of nerves, a little bit of excitement,” said the coach. “For these seniors, this is their last opportunity to really get a chance to be a district winner and also have the chance to go on and play at state. So it’s a mixed bag right now with how the kids are feeling, but I think they’re ready.”

The tournament will be split between two different sites, with both the boys and girls beginning at 8 a.m. at Goddard and Roswell High respectively.