Manchester Academy continued its tennis dynasty by winning both the boys’ and girls’ MAIS AA State tennis state championships on Wednesday in Ridgeland. The Maverick boys’ team has won 3 of the last 5 state titles and the girls have won 4 of the last 8 state titles.
While the Maverick boys wrapped up their victory with a safe margin, the Maverick girls’ team victory came down to the last match of the day. M.A.’s mixed doubles duo of Reid Bain and Ann Hampton Wells easily advanced to the finals with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Brookhaven, but they faced their talented rivals from Tri County in a late afternoon championship match with not only the mixed doubles title in the balance, but also the team victory for the M.A. girls.
Bain and Wells had already defeated Emma Bozeman and Will Young of TCA twice this season, but in close matches that could have gone either way. This match was no different. Manchester’s duo managed to win the first set 6-4, but TCA appeared to have all the momentum in the second set leading 6-5 and needing one more game to force a decisive third set in the heat. Bain and Wells played one of their best games to force a second set tiebreaker and proceeded to play lights out winning the tiebreaker 7-5 setting off a happy celebration of the Maverick team and their fans.
This enabled the MA girls’ team to tie Greenville St. Joe at 4 points and win the state title by tiebreaker because the Mavs had more teams reach the finals. Newton County and Glennbrook each had 2 points. The Maverick boys’ team won with 6 points, with St. Joe at 4 points, Newton County Academy with 3 and Tri County with ½.
“The road to these State Championships began on the practice courts,” commented Maverick Coach Debbie Crisler reflecting on their season. “It started with five year olds taking lessons from local tennis pro Yvette Edwards Cook. This fall we had football players, cheerleaders, dancers, softball and soccer players leaving one practice to come to a weekly drill session that Yvette held. These were team championships rather than individual victories.”
“Our team was determined to win and refused to lose,” added Crisler. “Both our mixed (Ann Hampton Wells and Reid Bain) and #2 boys doubles (Hayes Bardwell and Zach Haynes) teams found themselves down in the final match, but both teams battled back to win the championship for their position. Our #2 girls doubles team (Abbie Carroll and Sophie Humphreys) and our #2 boys singles (Staten Greenly) played well and never gave up, even though they found themselves down in the end. I was especially proud of Abbie and Sophie, our most inexperienced team, as they lost in a heartbreaking three set battle. Upton Hitt, #1 boys singles, had a great season. He breezed through his first round match but fell in the finals to a senior from St. Joe who has signed to play tennis next year at Hinds. Our #2 girls singles player, Monica Morrison, won both her matches in straight sets. I am so proud of Monica, as she has become a force to be reckoned with! Her backhand is her biggest weapon, but this year she has learned when to take advantage of that big shot. Matt Carroll and Will Peeler, #1 boys doubles team, dominated both of their matches with excellent net play and beautiful passing shots. I was proud of all our players, but one of the best tennis exhibitions of the day came from our #1 girl singles player, Josie Coker. She came into the tourney undefeated, but she faced a young lady in the finals who plays tournaments year round and has signed to play tennis with Millsaps College. Josie lost the first set 6-0 only to come blistering back to take the second set 6-1. She finally lost the third set 6-4, but not until she had played some of the best tennis of her career.”
Monica Morrison won the first state title of the day for the Mavs by cruising through her competition in #2 singles beating Glenbrook School 6-1, 6-0 in the semi-finals and Brookhaven 6-3, 6-1 in the finals.
Next, Matt Carroll and Will Peeler won the #1 boys’ doubles state title with relative ease defeating Brookhaven 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-finals and Newton County Academy 6-3, 6-1 in the finals. Carroll and Peeler finished the season undefeated with an 11-0 record.
Hayes Bardwell and Zach Haynes won the third state title of the day for the Mavs by winning the #2 boys’ doubles bracket defeating Sylva Bay 6-2, 6-3 and Newton County Academy 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. The Maverick duo dropped a first set at North State last week and did it again this week in the championship match and neither time was there a hint of panic from Bardwell and Haynes. They battled and eventually took control of the match to secure the first place trophy.
Finally, Reid Bain and Ann Hampton Wells were the last Mavericks playing tennis late into the day and it looked like after they won their first set 6-4 that their rival opponents Emma Bozeman and Will Young of Tri County were going to force a decisive third set. However, the Maverick duo rallied to push the second set into a tiebreaker and then claimed their state title by closing out the match 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Upton Hitt won the runner-up trophy at #1 boys’ singles by winning 6-1, 6-0 against Newton County Academy, but fell just short in the finals against Greenville St. Joe.
Josie Coker, who has led the Mavericks on the court all year, pushed her season record to 14-0 by winning her semi-final match against Newton County Academy 6-0, 6-1. In the title match, however, she ran into a college level player from Glenbrook and gave her all she wanted losing 6-0, 1-6, 6-4.
Mavericks Abbie Carroll and Sophie Humphreys had a slugfest of a #2 girls’ doubles match against Newton County Academy that they narrowly lost 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4. Maverick Staten Greenlee lost a tough match to Newton Academy 6-2, 6-2 to complete a really good year for the young freshman.
Asked about next year’s team, Crisler said, “Though we lose three girls to graduation, we do not lose any boys. The future of MA tennis is bright!”