The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 9, 2013

Christopherson, Angleton playing for pride at state

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Jason Christopherson laughs a little when told Darrell Herndon, his tennis coach at Enid High School, describes himself as a “little ornery.’’

That orneriness can be seen in Christopherson’s favorite tennis memory — hitting a ball off a Tahlequah’s player head which went over the fence.

“They were hitting at us all day,’’ Christopherson said. “I hit it as hard as I could. We lost the match but ... it felt good.’’

Christopherson will end his career today and Saturday when he plays No. 1 doubles with Connor Angleton at the Class 6A state tournament at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.

“It’s been fun,’’ Christopherson said. “I’ve laughed and cried, but I wouldn’t change anything.’’

The state tournament won’t be emotional for him.

“Not at all,’’ he said. “I can always play tennis. I’m ready to go to college. Honestly, I’ve looked at state as just another tournament.’’

It’s the third state tournament for Christopherson, and the second for Angleton. They were the lone EHS players to qualify for state after finishing second in the regional at Edmond Monday. Both were “relieved’’ to qualify for state.

“There’s a little bit of pressure,’’ Angleton said. “We’ve got to represent the guys. There’s no one else but us. My goal wasn’t to get second at regionals. I just wanted to make it to state. It was a pleasant day.’’

A year ago all the attention was on Daniel Martinez, who finished third at No.1 singles. Martinez missed the 2013 season after having hip surgery.

“It’s a lot different when all the eyes are on you,’’ Christopherson said.

“It’s going to be a lot different from last year,’’ Angleton said. “We didn’t have too many people watching us last year. Everybody is going to be watching us, so we need to win a match or two.’’

The duo will be seeded at No. 7 or No. 8 at best, Herndon said.

 Pride is the main motivation for both since neither have won a match at state. They are 6-5 overall.

“We’re just ready to take the next step,’’ Angleton said.

“Our goal was originally to make state, but now we’re trying to see how many matches that we can win.’’

“The first time I made it, I was really happy just to make state,’’ Christopherson said. “That excitement has gone away. Now, it’s how well you do. We’ve got to represent the guys well ... it’s nice to have another chance. It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t, but it will be fun if I can make it.’’

The duo have played only three tournaments together. Herndon spent much of the season mixing and matching trying to get the right combinations together,

Both played with two other partners before being paired together.

Christopherson said the two match up well. He and Angleton have different strengths. Angleton has a good backhand. Christopherson has a good forehand.

“It equals out,’’ he said. “My other partners had the same weaknesses that I had. We communicate well. The better you communicate, the better you play.’’

“We compliment each other well,’’ Angleton said. “We both cover the court well and have good communication. We know each other. We let each other know what we need, and don’t need to do.’’

Angleton qualified at No. 2 singles last year, but has been strictly a doubles player this year.

“It was a lot different,’’ he said. “I had to make a few more adjustments, but I finally got it going.’’

Christopherson was 7-5 at No. 2 singles, but turned to doubles because of a shoulder problem.

Christopherson plans to attend Ivy League school Princeton next fall and study pre-med.

“I’ve always been able to mix academics and athletics,’’ he said. “Being a doctor is the best thing for me. As a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I do now.’’

Angleton has a rich athletic heritage. Uncles Greg Harris and Russ Angleton starred in both football and baseball for the Plainsmen in the 1980s.

“We got some athletic ability in our family,’’ he said.

The younger Angleton, though, was attracted to tennis after playing baseball, basketball, golf and football. Next-door neighbor Tyler Hallett, a teammate on the tennis team, got him interested.

“We hit a little bit and I enjoyed it,’’ he said. “I went to the EJRT (Enid Joint Recreation Triad) clinics and I really liked it.’’

Both enjoy watching sports and hanging out with friends. Christopherson is a rare breed in Oklahoma — he’s an Alabama football fan.