By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo’s first-round match in the MHSAA state tennis playoffs was an easy one – a 7-0 victory on Monday against visiting Olive Branch at Rob Leake City Park.
“It’s going to be tough from here on out,” Golden Wave coach Sherry Rial promised.
Tupelo’s second-round opponent will be Northwest Rankin, which defeated THS 5-2 earlier this season.
The match will get started at 2 p.m. Saturday at Northwest Rankin, which advanced by beating WarrenCentral.
In Monday’s match, the Wave’s No. 1 boys doubles team of Aaron Hildenbrand and Austin Pillow won 6-3, 6-2 while the No. 2 team of Will Otis and Andrew Hilden Brand were 6-1, 6-0 winners.
In girls doubles, No. 1 Lauren Bell and Leslie Hamm claimed a 6-1, 6-0 win while No. 2 Ashley Williams and Sarah Lambert Hollingsworth were 6-0, 6-1 winners.
In mixed doubles, Zac Baldwin and Kat Stratton had to work for a 7-6, 7-6 victory.
Tupelo won both of its singles matches by forfeit.
Rial likes her lineup, but said changes could be made.
“You can put players anywhere you want,” she said. “The strategy is where you put people. That’s how you win. You try to find a weakness, guess what the opponent is trying to do. It keeps you awake at night.
“You’re trying to win four courts.”
Mixing it up
Baldwin, who has qualified for the individual portion of the state tournament in boys singles, enjoys playing mixed doubles in the team portion of the competition.
“It’s fun, all your friends are cheering for you,” he said. “I like playing singles more, but for the team, it’s better for me to play mixed doubles. Kat and I are a good mix.”
Baldwin is one of seven Golden Wave players who’ve qualified for individual play in the state tournament, which is set for May 9-10 in Jackson.
Aaron Hildenbrand and brother, Andrew, qualified in No. 1 boys doubles. In No. 1 girls doubles, Bell and Hamm qualified along with Williams and Stratton in No. 2 doubles.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org