This year, athletes like Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin have gained a lot of attention for using their place in the sports world as a tool to share about their Christian faith. The same can be said for the Borger Mixed Doubles team of Abbie Madden and Alix Whitworth, who on Monday will take part in the 3A State Tennis Tournament down in Austin.
When talking to the two Borger High School seniors, both are quick to point out that they are thankful to the Lord for their opportunities for success on the tennis court.
On how they use their faith on the court, Madden said, â€śOur focus at state and every tournament is to do our best and to give glory to God regardless of the outcome.â€ť Whitworth added, â€śI think having this approach has allowed us to give our best effort in every match and stand out from other teams in a positive way.â€ť
The two players went on to say that acknowledging that their abilities are a gift from God allows them to have fun and reminds them they are playing a game they both love and to show good sportsmanship against their opponents.
Even though the two tennis players are open about their faith, the duo admit to being very competitive and expect to leave Austin with a couple of wins.
Whitworth said, â€śI think we feel good about our chances going into the state tournament. Abbie and I both like to play more of a power game style, which is something we are going to see at this level and I think that could be an advantage for us.â€ť
While the team has seen recent success in winning the District 1-3A title and finishing in second place at the 3A Region I Tournament, wins havenâ€™t come that easy for the duo throughout the 2011-12 season.
Madden spent the last few years playing with her brother Josh Madden, and they had enjoyed a lot of success, including two trips to the state tournament and winning the Mixed Doubles state title in 2011. Even though Whitworth was a proven tennis player, it took some adjustment in making the partner change for Madden, who said, â€śThere was a different dynamic playing with Alix compared to Josh, so it did take a while to make the adjustment and get used to playing with each other.â€ť
In filling the boyâ€™s spot on a state champion team, Whitworth admits he felt a great deal of pressure going into the year, saying, â€śI had played tennis throughout high school but never qualified for regionals. So I was excited in having the opportunity to team up with Abbie, but there is no question I felt a lot of pressure taking Joshâ€™s spot because of the success they had over the past two years.â€ť
Prior to this year, Whitworth had spent most of his time competing in Boys Doubles on the Borger High School Tennis team.
As Madden and Whitworth started playing together, they soon learned their abilities complimented each other very well. Instead of working with coaches individually, the duo would spend most of their practice time working together, where it is obvious the hard work has paid off.
Despite the hard work, Madden and Whitworth said it wasnâ€™t until the Pampa Tournament earlier this spring, where the duo felt like they started playing at a high level and getting the results they wanted to see on the tennis court. Whitworth said, â€śWinning the Pampa Tournament was definitely a turning point for us. There was one match in that tournament where we were not playing well, but we found a way to grind out a win. From that match on, it seems like we started to really click and really improved as a team.â€ť
While Whitworth is making his first trip to the state tournament, Maddenâ€™s experience in the tournament seems to be giving the duo a good balance of being excited about reaching state but knowing what to expect in order to not to get caught up in the moment.
Madden said, â€śThe experience at state can be intimidating but I think my experience being there before will give us an advantage and help in not getting caught up in the experience.â€ť Madden said the spectator crowd is bigger than what they have seen anywhere else. But Whitworth was quick to say playing in front of a good crowd is something he loves, so he expects the experience to be something that helps him play better instead of being intimidated.
In reaching the state tournament, the duo appear to have a very humble attitude about the opportunity, with Whitworth saying, â€śRegardless on how we do, it is awesome to think we are one of the top eight 3A Mixed Doubles teams in the state of Texas because there are a lot of great teams out there.â€ť Madden added, â€śWe feel good about our chances to do well, but our main goal is to know that we gave our best effort and to give God glory no matter what happens.â€ť
Madden and Whitworth open the state tournament taking on Jeremy Rodriguez and Alecxia Ceballos of La Feria on Monday at 12:30 p.m. in Austin.