Realignment can be a very good thing for high school sports. It mixes things up and keeps things fair, having teams with similar enrollments compete against each other.
One bad aspect of realignment, however, is when a great rivalry, such as the one that exists between the Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage tennis programs, is ended because one team moves up in classification while the other remains the same or moves down.
This requires the programs to schedule non-district matches which, while still exciting and enjoyable for players and fans, is not quite the same as a contest with district implications on the line.
Grapevine coach Angel Martinez said that as soon as he found out that realignment had placed Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage in different districts, his first thought was about the rivalry.
“We thought about that immediately,” Martinez said. “We're still going to play each other, but it won't have the same meaning to it. The team was disappointed. We do like playing them, because there is a history between us.”
Martinez said the rivalry has meant a lot to the Grapevine tennis program.
“We're always looking at them, and they are always looking at us,” Martinez said. “We're always gauging each other and look others’ results. I think more than anything is that this rivalry has always kept both teams on their toes.”
Martinez took over the Grapevine program in 1999, and in his first season, Grapevine lost every match against the Panthers.
Since that time, Grapevine has lost once by one, and then won every other season.
Even though the Mustangs have had the upper hand for a while now, Martinez still considers Colleyville Heritage to be his team’s biggest rival, and Colleyville Heritage coach, Jeff Matlock, feels the same way.
“They've got a great team,” Matlock said. “There was some sadness, because that is a long-standing rivalry, and getting together is always kind of a neat deal. We were not happy about (realignment). They have beaten us the past several years, but they have also been the only tough team we face year in and year out.”
Matlock said he also thought about the rivalry right away when he heard about the realignment.
“You just enjoy playing better competition, even if they have had the upper hand for a while, and the great thing is that they are good kids at Grapevine,” Matlock said. “It's not like you're getting beaten by a bunch of jerks.”
Matlock said that he is happy the teams will still play yearly, and said that he and Martinez are going to try to make sure it is still a very special contest.
“For a number of years, we have played them fairly early in district, and then it has been kind of anti-climactic after that,” Matlock said. “We're going to keep it alive, and I think we're attaching a senior recognition thing to it this year and kind of making it into more of an event.”