The Region I-5A tennis tournament gets under way Wednesday at Texas Tech's McLeod Tennis Center. Coaches from District 3-5A feel as though no players could be better prepared than theirs — because they've been knocking heads all school year with players in District 3-5A.

"I feel like our regional tournament is going to be easier than our district tournament was, to be honest," Monterey coach Matt Boedeker said. "It's definitely tough. But our kids are battle tested; that's for sure. They've been through fire already."

Coronado coach David Denham would second that opinion, calling 3-5A "the toughest district in the state for 5A ... in the region, for sure."

When the fall season ended, six of the nine teams in 3-5A were ranked among the top 20 in the state by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association, so players advancing to the Region I-5A tournament Wednesday and Thursday on the Tech campus earned it.

Monterey senior Taylor Barnhill, 61-3 this school year, is seeded No. 1 in girls singles, and Lubbock-Cooper senior Brice Bradshaw and Lubbock High freshman Andrew Azatian are seeded No. 1 and No. 3 in boys singles, though Azatian beat Bradshaw for the District 3-5A title.

They could hook up again. Monterey's Ashley Bustos and Gracelyn Anderson could do the same in girls doubles against Coronado's Landry Turner and Rylie Denham. The two teams are seeded second and fourth and have no secrets at this point.

"We've been battling them the whole semester, the whole year," David Denham said of the Monterey tandem. "We lost to them in the fall, but then we beat them twice this spring and they beat us twice. We're alternating. So that would be the ultimate goal is to have a Lubbock shootout."

Anderson and Bustos, state qualifiers as the Region I-5A runners-up a year ago, are back-to-back district champions and boast a 57-5 record this school year.

"Which is pretty incredible, playing the number-one doubles spot," Boedeker said, "playing everybody's best players every time. So really impressed with them this year. ... They've been on a roll all year. They're not an unbeatable team, but they're tough to beat, and you've got to play your best to beat them."

Coronado's Turner, a senior, and Rylie Denham, a sophomore, are 39-11 this school year, having overcome adversity to reach this point. David Denham said Turner suffered a shoulder injury while carrying a flag for the Mustangs' football team on a windy afternoon in the football playoffs and thought she wouldn't be able to play this spring.

"But I said, 'You can serve underhand. Let's put it in play and see what we can do,'" David Denham said. "And she's been doing it all semester. They're pretty resilient. That's the best way to put it. But they're having fun, and that's what I like."

The UIL state tournament is May 16-17 at Texas A&M. Monterey's Barnhill is shooting for a return engagement after qualifying as the Region I-5A runner-up in 2018.

Barnhill won district and making it back to state would be a good way to cap her high-school career.

"She's incredibly God-gifted," Boedeker said. "Her talent is unbelievable. She's been just an all-star athlete ever since she was a baby. She was the city champion in middle school, played number two on varsity as a freshman and has held down that spot ever since then."

There's more competitive tennis ahead for Bradshaw, who has committed to Midwestern State. But the Cooper senior might face a district rematch in regional against an up-and-comer with him and Azatian among the top three seeds.

Bradshaw is 38-9 this school year, including 21-5 this spring, Pirates coach Michael Breler said.

"He's been a solid player for us all four years," Breler said. "He's had a great senior year."

Azatian is just getting started, and what a start it's been for the Lubbock High freshman who won the district title. Azatian is 22-3 this spring with two of the losses against higher-ranked Class 6A players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Westerners coach Jonathan King said.

"He's come a long way this year," King said, "from whenever he first walked on the tennis courts at Lubbock High. You could tell there was definitely a lot of nerves there, being a freshman, and he didn't handle the pressure that well right off the bat. He has definitely gotten all that stuff under control, and he is playing with a ton of confidence right now."

Wednesday's schedule starts with mixed doubles matches at 8 a.m., girls singles matches at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., girls doubles at 9:30 a.m., boys singles at 11 a.m. and boys doubles at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.