UIL State Tennis

Zein, Sriniketh capture singles State Championships

Zein and Sriniketh brought the god back to H-Town Vype

COLLEGE STATION - Heading into the day there was no doubt that Houston would be walking away with gold.

The Class 6A girls and boys singles title matches had Houston-area talent on both sides of the net.

Fort Bend Dulles' Marlee Zein followed in her older sister Miriam's footsteps and won the 6A Girls Singles State Championship in her senior season with a 6-3, 6-2 straight-set victory against Cypress Ranch's Melissa LaMette.

"Personally I just think it's really cool because it's for my school," Zein said. "It represents my school. All of the people were cheering for me back at home. It just makes it that much more important. It's exciting."

The last time Dulles tennis won a girls singles state title was in 2012 when Miriam Zein accomplished the feat.

Marlee, who is signed to go to the University of Florida, leaves Dulles as a two-time state medalist. In her freshman year she took silver in girls singles, then stepped away from high school tennis for her sophomore and junior years before returning this season.

"We're all very proud of her," Fort Bend Dulles coach Patty Priddy said. "She's worked very hard for a very long time. You don't get the ratings she does without doing that."

Marlee is the first girl to win a singles title since Clear Lake's Janice Shin in 2014.

On the boys side it was a rematch of the Region III-6A title match as Katy Tompkins' Anish Sriniketh and Pearland Dawson's Kevin Zhu collided.

The duo took the match to a decisive third set but just like in the regional final, Sriniketh was able to best Zhu taking the match 2-1 (7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-3).

Sriniketh is the first-ever tennis player from Tompkins, boy or girl, to capture a tennis state title.

"It just means a lot," Sriniketh said. "We're a really new school, this is our fifth year, so it's great to be the first one to do anything to be honest. It's just a great feeling."

Sriniketh, who didn't make it out of the District 19-6A tennis tournament last season, used the disappointment from that to fuel his title run this year.

In the regional final against Zhu, Sriniketh didn't take a set from him but that wasn't the story on Friday.

"Today was unbelievable," Sriniketh said. "I believed in myself and wow. I'm speechless actually."

Sriniketh is the first boy from Houston to win a singles title since Stratford's Josh Holloway did it in 2015 capturing the 5A boys singles state title.

This is the first time since 2014 that Houston has captured the UIL's highest classification's girls and boys singles titles. Shin and Katy Taylor's Peter Leung won the 5A girls and boys singles state championship that season, respectively.

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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