MA tennis teams win North Half titles

By THE YAZOO HERALD,

Manchester Academy won the boys’ and girls’ MAIS North State AA tennis championships in Greenville last week and will now play for the state championship.

“We won everything we competed in on the girls’ side and everything we competed in on the boys’ side except #2 singles,” commented Maverick Coach Yvette Cook. “And everyone advanced to State.”

While the Maverick girls’ team won over 2nd place Greenville St. Joe 8 to 4, the girls’ team victory was in jeopardy with the last two matches on the court and M.A. down a set to St. Joe in both matches.

“We had two girls down, but somehow we pulled it out,” commented Coach Debbie Crisler.

Marie Lewis and Merrell Nichols had easily defeated their St. Joe opponents Meera Patel and Julianna Portilla last week at the conference tourney, but nerves rattled the two M.A. seniors as they lost the first set of the finals 6-4. However, Lewis and Nichols righted themselves and were able to clinch the team championship for the Mavericks with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win in the #2 girls’ doubles final.

“Marie and Merrell didn’t come out as psyched up about the match, but they ended up having to dig deep and figure it out and they did,” commented Coach Cook. “They finally decided to play to win rather than play not to lose. They started poaching. They started playing at the net a little better and started hitting their shots and not letting them dictate as much. And they started communicating with each other. It was a great comeback!”

“We didn’t talk at all and got frustrated at ourselves. Being seniors put added pressure on Merrell and me,” commented Marie Lewis. “But Mrs. Yvette got our attention and then we picked it up. I am so excited about going to State.”

Monica Morrison also lost her first set giving St. Joe hope if they could win these last two matches they could force a tie for the team championship; yet, Morrison out-battled #1 seed Mary Michael Mahalitc in the #1 girls’ singles final by winning the last two sets after a rain delay. Morrison played some of her most determined tennis of the season rallying to a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory.

“Monica had to figure out she was beating herself,” said Coach Yvette Cook. “She had to figure out she had to keep the ball in play one more time than the other girl, and the other girl was getting everything back. Monica dug deep and she won.”

Maverick Sophie Humphreys played an excellent all-court game and beat St. Joe’s Cecilia Azar 6-4, 6-2 at #2 girls’ singles to secure the MA girls’ first title of the day.

Mary Sibley McGraw and Ann Hampton Wells grabbed the second title for the MA girls by easily defeating Caroline and Catherine Meyer of St. Joe 6-1, 6-0 in #1 girls’ doubles.

Upton Hitt set the tone for the M.A. boys’ team by getting their first title of the day by crushing Oak Hill’s Charles Raines 6-2, 6-1 in the #1 boys’ singles final.

M.A.’s Matt Carroll and Will Peeler barely broke a sweat winning 6-1, 6-0 over Grayson Easterling and John Ross Craven of Oak Hill to claim the #1 boys’ doubles title and clinch the Maverick boys’ team victory.

The Maverick #2 boys’ doubles duo of Hayes Bardwell and Zach Haynes finished out the MA boys’ day with a 6-0, 6-4 victory in the finals versus Conner Freeman and Jack Easterling of Oak Hill.

“It started raining in the first game of the match, so they had to call it off for about 30 minutes,” added Hayes Bardwell. “We won the first six games after the rain and the first game of the second set, but then they won four straight. We started hitting to the net man a lot, and I was missing a lot of easy shots. We managed to tie it at four and then closed it out by winning the last two games.”

Bardwell also commented on the pressure of being a senior. “I have to show out for my last year. If you lose, you’re done. No more sports; it’s the last one I will play.”

Mav Staten Greenlee lost in the finals of #2 boys’ singles to St. Joe’s Michael Mansour, but did qualify to compete in next week’s state championships after his easy 6-2, 6-0 semi-final win against Parker Brand of Oak Hill.

The M.A. girls’ team won with 8 points over Greenville St. Joe with 4, Oak Hill with 1 and Winona Christian with ½. The MA boys won with 7 points over Oak Hill with 4, St. Joe with 2 and Winona Christian with ½.

The Maverick girls’ team has won the North State championship six of the last eight years and the M.A. boys have won it four of the last six years.