McALESTER — Though she ran track in junior high in Tulsa, McAlester senior Krystal Hixson said sports didn’t play a huge role in her life growing up there. When her family moved to McAlester before the start of her freshman year — her second big move, her family having moved from Oklahoma City to Tulsa when she was 2 — she only started playing volleyball because she couldn’t take Spanish.
Volleyball introduced Hixson to head tennis coach Chad Waller, and four years later, Hixson is a college-bound, state-qualifying tennis player for the Lady Buffaloes.
“I didn’t plan on playing any sports,” Hixson said Friday.
“I decided I’d go finally try tennis, and the day I started it I really liked it.”
Hixson is the Lady Buffs’ 2014 varsity one-singles player. She’s been to the state tournament as both a doubles and singles player, and said she prefers playing singles.
“It’s a lot of communication without communicating,” Hixson said of playing doubles. Of playing singles, she said, “It’s just kind of all up to me. I make my own mistakes.”
Though she’s made State three years in a row — as a freshman she made the junior-high state tournament — Hixson has yet to place. She and 2013 graduate Loretta Medina made the second day of competition in 2012, but Hixson said she’d like to end her high school career by not only making State, but finally placing at it.
“It’s really big, and there are a lot of schools that you didn’t maybe see (during the season),” Hixson said of State.
“It’s a lot of fun, but that first day, we’re all trying just trying to make it to the next day.”
To reach that goal, Hixson said she’s gone into this season with a different mindset and a newfound confidence that she can compete with anyone. That confidence comes not just from success in previous years, but also from the work she’s put in with Waller.