Mason’s Hatfield practices perfectly to win the tennis title

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Mason Hatfield reached the mountaintop of Texas high school tennis for the third time.

Hatfield won the 2024 Class 2A boys state championship by defeating Luke Marshall of Albany 6-4, 6-0 in the finals, marking his third UIL tennis championship. With that achievement, Hatfield will graduate from Mason High School as one of the most decorated athletes in its history.

Despite the overwhelming success of the past three years, Hatfield admitted he didn’t think he would reach this level of performance early in his career.

“When I was a freshman, I tried singles and lost at the regional level,” Hatfield said. “I didn’t even make it to declare, so I was a little discouraged.”

Although he didn’t have much confidence in himself early on, Mason tennis coach Mike Smith saw early signs that Hatfield would improve as he gained more experience.

“(Hatfield’s) a special kid and a great competitor,” Smith said. “He does everything the right way. We always call him the ultimate practice player because he comes out and practices the way he plays, and plays the way he practices every day. It’s just very satisfying to see that work pay off for Mason.”

Hatfield’s first state success came as a sophomore, playing in the mixed doubles category with his partner Kyleigh Aké. By the time the pair reached the state finals, they had to pass the opposing team of Mason, Sterling Smith and Tate Spencer. Hatfield and Ake lost the first set 2-6, but battled to back-to-back 7-5 wins to claim the match and take home the title – a moment that Hatfield says took him to even greater heights.

“My motivation came from the upperclassmen who came before me,” Hatfield said. “I just saw their focus and how prepared they were. I kind of wanted to fill those shoes and see my name on all those banners among state champions. I wanted to be just like them because they were great role models.”

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The next two years, Hatfield returned to singles competition and dominated the field from district to state. In his first state title run, he didn’t drop a match and was pushed past six sets once in his championship match against Albany’s Marshall – whom he defeated 7-5, 6-0. The following year he knew he had to sharpen his focus if he wanted to claim the title again.

“I tried to go to as many tournaments as I could and focus on staying calm,” Hatfield said. “I focused on taking it one game at a time and trying not to look too far into the future because that can get you caught up and block your mental focus.”

Smith said he could see Hatfield’s sharpened focus and the residual effect it had on the rest of the tennis program.

“We really had a great group of seniors,” Smith said. “…We had a very balanced team this year and it’s really good for (the underclassmen) to see the success the seniors had when they put the work in…For Mason, it’s really rewarding to have someone to see that he does what he does in practice every day and is rewarded with winning that championship.”

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Hatfield capped his high school career with a state title and was one of three Mason tennis individuals and teams to take home the championship in their respective categories.

Despite the success he had in high school tennis, Hatfield said he has no plans to play at the collegiate level and will attend Texas Christian University in the fall. He appreciates the time and work he put into tennis and all the memories he had of competing at the highest level.

“When my whole family congratulated me at the end, I went up to my mom and gave her a huge hug,” Hatfield said. “She was the first person I wanted to see after a big win because ultimately she is the person who believed in me and got me started in this sport. … One piece of advice I have for others is to work as hard as possible. work as much as you can and don’t take any exercise for granted. Just practice every day with a positive attitude.”