Itawamba's Collins wins fourth title to lead a dozen champs on Tuesday

JACKSON – Tupelo’s Catherine Holliday wanted revenge.
Courtney Collins of Itawamba AHS wanted a fourth consecutive state title.
Both players got what they came for, leading a strong effort for Northeast Mississippi tennis players in the individual tennis championships that wrapped up Tuesday at the Parham Bridges Tennis Center.
In all, players from the Journal’s circulation area claimed 12 state titles on Tuesday – including four by Class 3A team champion Corinth and three by Class 4A team champion Oxford.
But perhaps none were sweeter than those picked up by Holliday and Collins.
Holliday, a senior, rallied from a second-set loss and a 4-3 deficit in the final set Tuesday to defeat Brandon’s Kechinye Didia 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to win the MHSAA Class 5A state tournament girls singles championship.
Didia beat Holliday in last year’s title match.
“Revenge is sweet,” said Holliday, a Belmont University signee. “I just kept hitting deep and teeing off on everything.”
Holliday admitted that the second-set loss rattled her.
“I was very down,” she said. “I was nervous. Not many of my shots were working.”
The big crowd watching the match helped build her confidence.
“Just looking around at all the people … it was fun,” she said.
In the semifinals, Holliday beat Katie Reid of Petal 6-1, 6-0.
Holliday’s win was her third state title in singles and her fourth overall. She also won one title in mixed doubles.
Meanwhile, Collins, who hasn’t lost a game, set or match all season, defeated Stone County’s Christa Owens 6-0, 6-0.
Her fourth consecutive MHSAA Class 4A title matched sister Lindsey’s four, an eight-in-a-row mark for the family.
“I think of it more as me and my sister have won so many together,” Collins said, “instead of just separately.”
Unbeaten throughout her high school career, Collins’ name was accidentally left off of the championship shirts for sale at Ridgeland Tennis Center. What would have bothered the Memphis signee more than that would have been losing her first set of the season. Owens was one Collins miscue away from that happening.
“Don’t miss,” Collins said she told herself. “I was freaking out. I was so mad at myself, like ‘You’ve got to be kidding.'”
She said No. 4 and her perfect 12-0 record were at the top of her goals list.
“It means a lot more, I guess because it was my last one,” said Collins, a Memphis signee, “plus I was trying to go all season without losing a game. I was excited about doing that.”
Other highlights from Tuesday’s action”
– Class 3A: Wesley Raines of South Pontotoc beat Nathan Burkett of Columbia 6-3, 6-1 to win the boys singles title.
In girls singles, Christina Coleman of Corinth defeated Chelsea Coleman of North Pontotoc 6-3, 6-1 for one of Corinth’s four titles. Other winners for the Warriors: Austin McElwain and Charlie Curtis at No. 2 boys doubles, Abby Lambert and Christina Puckett at No. 2 girls doubles and Joseph Hurt and Allie Winters at mixed doubles in a tiebreaker.
– Class 4A: Oxford’s Zack Wilder won at No.1 singles and were joined by both of the Chargers’ boys doubles teams – Jack Barksdale and Hiroshi Murakawa beat Karl Capaning and Jacob Rowland of New Albany 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 and Jenner Jordan and Alex Mullen won at No. 2.
At girls No. 2 doubles, Katherine Downing and Frankie Turner of Pontotoc defeated Felicity Flesher and Erin Dyer of Oxford 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. In mixed doubles, Luke Wilson and Callie Creekmore of New Albany defeated Anna Axton and Josh Agee of Laurel 6-1, 6-2.
East Webster picked up a pair of Class 1A titles on Monday – Molly Davis and Courtney McAdory at No. 1 girls singles and Jessica Halterman and Jamison Allred at mixed doubles.

Gene Phelps & Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

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