By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Jacob Ferguson and Ryan Henry have played a lot of doubles together, just not this season.
However, the Pontotoc sophomores will join forces today in an attempt to win a state title in the MHSAA Class 4A Tennis Championships at Bridges Tennis Center.
Ferguson and Henry defeated New Albany seniors, twins Christopher and Christian Scott, 6-2, 6-3 in Wednesday’s semifinals. They will play Newton County’s David Brand and Bryden Reed for the state championship.
“We’ve been on a mission,” Ferguson said. “We were not as nervous today as we usually are. We want to win and you have to be confident to do that.”
Pontotoc took control of the match early against New Albany.
“I thought we served well,” Henry said. “We didn’t get nervous or frustrated. I think after we jumped on them they got frustrated.”
Ferguson played doubles with other partners this season while Henry played singles in a lot of division matches. The duo played doubles together last season and lost in the state quarterfinals to Columbia. Wednesday, they defeated the same Columbia players in the quarterfinals.
This season, Pontotoc coach Kevin Morrow split the two partners in order to improve his team’s chances in division play.
“They wanted to play together this year,” Morrow said. “They are a good team. Last year they were singles players playing doubles. This year they are doubles players playing doubles.”
Henry agreed with his coach’s assessment of their doubles play.
“We’ve really grown as players in one year,” he said. “Mentally and physically we’ve enhanced our game. We’ve communicated well. We play very well strategically … that’s what it takes to win in doubles.”
Newton County’s Brand and Reed beat Amory’s Garrett Trautman and Joseph Summers 6-1, 6-2 in their state semifinal match.
Ferguson and Henry lost to them 6-1, 5-7 (7-10) earlier this season.
Shannon’s Jordan Roberts won a state championship in 4A girls singles as an eighth grader. She lost in the finals two years ago and was beaten by Newton County’s Shannon St. Clair in three sets last year in the semifinals.
Roberts plays St. Clair in a rematch today with a state championship on the line.
Roberts defeated Greenwood’s Tierney Holmes 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Also, in 6A boys doubles Tupelo’s Robert Thompson and Andrew Hildenbrand are in today’s finals.
New Albany’s Olivia Dunnam and Rebekah Jackson are in the girls 4A doubles finals.
In Class 3A, Nettleton’s Hayden Lee is scheduled to play Larry Qu of St. Andrew’s for the boys singles championship.