McALESTER — McAlester senior Parker Tidwell had played singles tennis at Puterbaugh Middle School. But once she got to McAlester High School, Tidwell switched to doubles.
That move has led to three straight trips to the state tournament and a three-year spot on McAlester’s varsity.
“Her game’s more built for doubles,” McAlester tennis coach Chad Waller said Wednesday. “She has a better serve and more of a forehand.”
Born in Ardmore, Tidwell said she spent two years there, then moved to Madill. She came to McAlester at the start of third grade and began playing tennis at Waller’s summer tennis camp after her fourth-grade year.
“We just decided to try it out,” Tidwell said.
“I liked it.”
Tidwell became a mainstay at those summer tennis camps, then started playing competitively in the seventh grade. She made the junior high state tournament as a freshman, then made her first varsity state tournament as a sophomore.
“Every year it’s exciting just to be fighting it out at Regionals and finally winning that last point and getting to go to State,” Tidwell said. She added that making the second day of State is her goal for this season.
“We got close last year,” she said.
Trying to find the right doubles pairings, Waller tried several combinations during Tidwell’s junior year. He paired Tidwell with Sydney Creager for the McAlester Burn Out Tournament in April 2013, and the two won the two-doubles competition.
Tidwell and Creager also made State as a two-doubles pair, and they’ve played together all this season.
“We clicked pretty fast,” Tidwell said of Creager.
“We just both know how to bring each other up. If I’m getting down, she’ll bring me up. ... You have to be able to trust that your partner is going to go here, and if you think they’re going here, you have to trust that they’re going to move without you actually saying ‘switch.’”