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Patton setting high standard for Coppell tennis

Avani Munji
Coppell sophomore Lexie Patton prepares to return a serve during her doubles match against McKinney Boyd on Oct. 10 at the Coppell Tennis Center. Patton is captain of the tennis team and has been playing tennis for more than 10 years. Photo by Avani Munji

In the Coppell High School hallways, sophomore tennis captain Lexie Patton can seem unassuming and shy. However, upon walking onto the tennis court, she becomes the fiercest competitor.

With her relentless hits and unending stamina, her hits and name both demand attention and ward off opposing players.

Before officially being named head coach of Coppell tennis, Alyssa Noonan observed Patton play doubles with sister Lindsay Patton at the spring Class 6A State Tournament.

“They had a really good dynamic, both very skilled players, very confident and worked well together,” Noonan said. “I’ve gotten to know Lexie this year, it’s been great to see off-court Lexie. She’s kind, genuine and hilarious. But that first impression, she was so serious on the court and intense.”

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In freshman year, Lexie felt overshadowed by her sister’s experience and seniority. However, after her sister’s injury and the start of Lexie playing line one, Lexie feels she took off that blanket and started showing her own potential.

“There is another Patton sister, and it’s not just the little sister,” Lexie said.

After being inspired to play tennis by Lindsay, Lexie has dedicated the last 10 years to hone her technique and mental fortitude. A unique pairing of siblings, Lexie and Lindsay placed third overall in doubles at the state tournament.

Part of Lexie’s talent comes from her experience playing at Las Colinas Country Club. Jakob Paulsen, Lexie’s academy and private coach since 2015, has observed the years of consistency and sheer dedication that shaped Lexie into the athlete she is today.

“When she was 6 to 9 years old, she truly believed she could beat anybody,” Paulsen said. “It didn’t matter if I paired her with her sister or a coach, she believed she could beat them regardless of level or age. If she lost, that would make her extremely upset. That shows the mindset she had was different than most others, which helped her a lot in improving. Once she got older, she became more calm and now carries herself well on the court.”

Because tennis is an individual sport, mental fortitude and calmness on the court is essential. Paulsen also attributes Lexie’s success to her athletic capabilities, in which she has fortified over time through not just tennis, but other school sports, such as track and field – even achieving district champion in middle school with a 5:47 mile time.

“She has a very rare combination of athleticism, which is explosiveness and durability,” Paulsen said. “Usually, you have one or the other, but something genetic is unusual with her because she can run extremely fast and never gets tired. Her physical aspect is unheard of, and it’s not something you can just train for. ”

Despite being younger than many opponents and sometimes carrying less impressive statistics on paper, Lexie fights relentlessly during matches.

“When the opposing girl knows Lexie, nobody wants to play her, because you know you’re in for a long match if you try and beat her,” Paulsen said. “Most do not want to sacrifice two hours of pain because they aren’t mentally as strong as Lexie.”

Currently, Patton plays doubles with fellow sophomore Gabby Rice. Their middle school rivalry was heated, but as they bonded, their friendship and chemistry became essential to their current playing dynamic.

“It was like we had to beat each other, rivals, rivals, rivals,” Rice said. “It was like that going into ninth grade too, but after I hurt my shoulder, I was no longer playing and got to cheer her on, and she would cheer me on through my recovery. That bonded us so when I came back this year we were really close.”

According to Rice, one of Lexie’s biggest strengths is her unending dependability.

“Lexie has the consistency down,” Rice said. “She’s always able to put the ball back in play whenever I mess up, and she’s always able to bring me up and my confidence. Our game styles are like polar opposites, but they attract so well.”

As a tennis captain, Lexie not only supports herself but her teammates too, such as using her water breaks to cheer teammates on from another court or building relationships with her partners.

“I feel like I have a strong connection to both my doubles partners,” Lexie said. “Obviously, Lindsay is my sister, and Gabby is my best friend. It’s been good having doubles partners that I can trust. I want to be my best for them, and I feel like that pushed me to another level because I want them to be able to rely on me and know that I will put my best foot forward to help us win.”

In the near future, Patton hopes to go to regionals as a team and compete at state in the spring, either in singles or doubles. In the long term, she aims to play for a Division I school and be top of the lineup.

“Athletes of her caliber are made purely of their own drive,” Noonan said. “She is one million percent responsible for the player she is today and I’m so proud of who she is.”

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on October 18, 2023.