Game, set, match

Senior’s ambitions drive his tennis goals

Senior+Ryan+Mouakket+was+inspired+to+give+tennis+a+shot+in+sixth+grade+while+watching+it+on+TV+with+his+dad.+He+now+aspires+to+earn+a+state+title.
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Game, set, match

Senior Ryan Mouakket was inspired to give tennis a shot in sixth grade while watching it on TV with his dad. He now aspires to earn a state title.

Senior Ryan Mouakket was inspired to give tennis a shot in sixth grade while watching it on TV with his dad. He now aspires to earn a state title.

Emily Lundell

Senior Ryan Mouakket was inspired to give tennis a shot in sixth grade while watching it on TV with his dad. He now aspires to earn a state title.

Emily Lundell

Emily Lundell

Senior Ryan Mouakket was inspired to give tennis a shot in sixth grade while watching it on TV with his dad. He now aspires to earn a state title.

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While Senior Ryan Mouakket cannot point to one specific source for his competitive nature, it has always been a part of him.

During an elementary school field trip to the Perot Museum, Ryan came across the Sports Run exhibit. The exhibit had simulations of animals like cheetahs and professional athletes. Immediately, Ryan felt the need to defeat a simulation of world record holder Usain Bolt. This desire to win led Ryan to continue to try the game and race against the other simulations.

“I wanted to actually beat them so bad that I went four times,” Ryan said.

At this age, he also began developing his talents in a wide variety of sports. Ryan was such a strong player that he often had to be the referee during recess.

“If you had him on one team, you would win and beat everybody,” Andrew Herrmann said, a teammate and classmate of Ryan since the third grade.

Ryan’s athletic ambitions proved to be useful in helping him progress in tennis. He started his high school tennis career as a freshman on varsity. Sophomore year, he was able to qualify for regionals. Throughout his tennis journey, Ryan’s coach Kelly Langdon, a US Professional Tennis Association certified coach, has recognized Ryan’s determination.

It’s a better feeling knowing that you beat some of the top players.”

— Ryan Moukket, 12

“He is one of the most hardworking students that I’ve had in my 19 years at Marcus,” Langdon said. “He has a tendency to be a grinder from the baseline and makes very few mistakes.”

Langdon credits Ryan’s work ethic in tennis to his strong passion for the sport.

“If he’s not practicing here, he is practicing outside of school, doing some athletic training to better prepare himself for the court,” Langdon said. “That’s someone that really really loves tennis.”

Teammates like Herrmann also notes Ryan’s strong work ethic, combined with his natural athletic ability.

“He has his goals and he always follows them up,” Herrmann said.

Despite his athletic history, Ryan found tennis to be challenging at first.

“It’s not like football or basketball where it’s easier to start playing,” Ryan said. “With tennis, you have to know the right techniques, how to hit the ball, for it to actually start working and to be fun.”

With practice, Ryan developed the strengths of mental toughness and patience. He particularly practiced these strengths during a lengthy match at a mid-summer San Antonio tournament.

In the blistering heat, Ryan played for three and a half hours against a difficult opponent. From making sure each ball counted, Ryan was able to finally win.  While  he loves to destroy his opponents with his skill, Ryan prefers to play against someone who challenges him.

“In matches, the most fun for me are the ones where I’m playing someone equal to me and I’m just hitting the ball good,” Ryan said. “It’s a better feeling knowing that you beat some of the top players.”

Through Ryan’s attitude and strengths, he made Marauder history last tennis season in May; he was the first male Marauder tennis player to qualify for the singles category for the May 2019 6A UIL state championship.

Emily Lundell
Throughout his tennis career, Mouakket has struggled with minor injuries including tendinitis in his shoulders and wrists, a common impairment among tennis players. He has had to pull out of tournaments due to this before but aside from that, the pain is typically bearable.

During the match, Ryan was nervous. He won the first set but he lost the second. Doubt filled him as he was about to enter the third match. However, after hearing his coach’s advice to regroup, Ryan felt his athletic drive return.

He said he was convinced he needed to go “all the way” during the match. Dominating his opponent was the only goal in his mind.

“Nobody goes into a tournament thinking let’s just get into the semifinals,” Ryan said. “That’s just telling yourself you’re going to lose.”

Ryan knew his chances were not high during the state quarterfinals. Though he tried his best, he lost by a point margin of 4-6. He was angry because this meant he was out of the state competition, but one thing provided him some relief.

“I beat the guy that got to the finals that lost,” Ryan said. “I beat him previously.”

Even when losing, Ryan has always carried a competitive attitude. This has  allowed him to continue to improve and craft goals for his future in tennis, whether it be entering state again his senior year or continuing through college.

Ryan still has the chance to return to state this semester under the team category. Currently, varsity tennis is the area champion and qualified for regionals. He will also get another shot as an individual in the singles competition in April.

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