Experienced Broncos off to strong start; Hurst excited as program continues to roll

Spring Sports, Tennis

Trey Hunter

March 21, 2023
Grace Shriver (Sr.) returns a shot during a practice session at Mustang High School. Shriver plays with Ella Brocker (Jr.) on the No. 2 doubles team for the Broncos, who have competed in three events so far this season. All six of Mustang's varsity members have their sights set on stepping aboard the state podium in May. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

After a two-week spring break layoff, Taylor Hurst and the Mustang Broncos are excited to return to the court and build upon the momentum from the team’s first three events.

The Broncos host Western Heights and Mt. Saint Mary on Thursday, looking to keep things rolling after a strong start to the season. They follow with a trip to the Oklahoma City Tennis Center for the Western Heights tournament this weekend.

Hurst, who is in his 10th year as Mustang’s head coach, is excited about his squad’s chance to compete for podium spots come postseason time in May.

With three seniors and three juniors leading the way, experience and maturity will be the team’s strengths, especially at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.

“They’re like little sponges. Nothing goes over their heads when I’m talking.”

– Taylor Hurst on his squad’s experience and maturity. 

Seniors Syana Keovongpheth and Vicky Zhang make up the team’s No. 1 doubles – a strong and focused pairing according to Hurst. They work well with each other and are building on the experience they gained last season. They are hoping to take the next step after failing to qualify for state at an extremely challenging regional.

“They’re a squirrely pair, but they’re a blast,” Hurst said. “They will rip the ball and also have the ability at the net. Their volleys are on point, and they have great hands and the form to put it back in play.

“They need to finish a little more, but they never get nervous whether they are up or down. Their style works really well for them.”

Senior Grace Shriver is back at No. 2 doubles along with junior Ella Brocker, who makes her varsity debut this season. Hurst says the expectations for the duo are just as high as the No. 1 pairing: make the podium at state.

“That’s the goal for both teams,” Hurst said. “Grace is the example-setter. She is the type of girl and player I want all the girls in the program to be like on and off the court and is great at leading by example.

“As far as her game, she has some of the best hands and is always in the right position. She always knows where to be in every scenario. She moves well and is just a presence.”

Hurst says that the team’s four doubles players have been properly prepared for the multi-player game. Doubles is a major part of the Mustang program.

“We play doubles,” he said. “We groom them for doubles. They’ve been working on it for the last three to four years and play with as much knowledge for the style and game as any team in the state. That’s just kind of what we’re known for here at Mustang.”

Syana Keovongpheth (Sr.) returns a shot during a practice session earlier this season. Keovongpheth and Vicky Zhang (Sr.) make up Mustang’s No. 1 doubles team in 2023. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

Hurst is also excited about the team’s singles lineup in 2023, playing with junior Kristen Limke at No. 1 singles and junior Madeline Hague at No. 2 singles.

Limke moves up to the No. 1 spot after gaining experience at No. 2 singles last year. Hague is making her varsity debut.

“Kristen is a great hitter and a pure tennis player,” Hurst said. “She battled through an injury last season but exceeded my expectations in high-end varsity tournaments.

“Madeline is a fighter. She could be a boxer if she wanted because she doesn’t have any quit in her. No. 2 singles is more of a chess match with endurance and long rallies. She has more weapons than most of her opponents and she is just realizing she can switch things up.”

With such an experienced and mature squad, Hurst has been able to focus on different aspects of the game with each player.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Having them know all of the little things helps me because we don’t have to start with the basics. Every year we get to add and teach them more and more and help take them to the next level. We try to coach them the way we were coached in college.

“They’re like little sponges. Nothing goes over their heads when I’m talking.”

The Broncos, Jets, and Rockets will square off starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday at MHS.

Published by trey hunter

Trey Hunter is the owner and publisher of the Mustang Sports Review. He graduated from Mustang High School in 2006 before graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a journalism degree in 2011. He has covered Mustang sports for multiple publications as well as high school sports and professional basketball for other outlets. Contact Trey for story ideas or reach out with information. PHONE: (405) 659-9898 EMAIL: TreyHunter1987@gmail.com

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