Tupelo High School begins defense of state tennis title next week

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Tupelo’s road to a fifth consecutive state championship in high school tennis has a major roadblock – powerful Madison Central, a team that defeated the Golden Wave, 7-0, earlier this season.
Tupelo will host the Jaguars on April 23 in the first round of the MHSAA 6A state playoffs.
“I think we’ll give them a tougher match,” Tupelo second-year head coach Sherry Rial said. “That was our first big weekend of the season. We played Northwest Rankin and Madison Central on Friday, then played Clinton, St. Andrew’s and Laurel on Saturday. We were still trying to figure out who was playing where.”
Jonathan Doles, a senior, said the Golden Wave treated the loss as a wake-up call.
“It was our first real test,” he said. “Madison Central dominated us. We realized we needed to practice more.”
Added Rial, “I told my players I don’t ever remember Tupelo getting beat on all seven courts. It fired us up as far as our work ethic.”
Rial and Doles did note that several courts in the loss to Madison Central went to third-set tiebreakers.
“If things would have gone our way on a couple of points, it could have been 4-3 (Tupelo),” Doles said.
Tupelo ended its regular season Monday with a 7-0 victory against Alcorn Central at Crossroads Regional Park courts. The Golden Wave takes a 9-5 record into the postseason.
Doles and Aaron Hildenbrand defeated Alcorn Central’s Ande Mills and Reid Price 6-0, 6-1 in No. 1 doubles play. It was only the second time for Doles and Hildenbrand to play together this season.
The two will likely pair up for Friday’s Division 2-6A individual state tournament qualifier in Columbus. The division winners and runners-up in boys and girls singles, No. 1 and No. 2 boys and girls doubles and No. 1 mixed doubles advance to state.
The state team championships feature three rounds of play, with the North and South champions playing the first day of the state tournament, May 11-12 in Jackson.
Play for individual championships will begin the afternoon of May 11.
In Monday’s other matches against Alcorn Central, Zac Baldwin beat Central’s Jacob Price 6-0, 6-0 and the Wave’s Ashley Williams downed Tiffany Burnett 6-3, 6-1 in singles play.
Tupelo’s No. 1 girls doubles team of Leslie Hamm and Martha Kate Buskirk defeated Monica Pruitt and Olivia Cooley 6-3, 6-1.
In No. 2 doubles, the Wave’s Sam Hand and Brooks Jackson beat Brandon Gann and David Mills 6-1, 6-1 while Tupelo’s Lauren Bell and Sarah Lambert Hollingsworth downed Katelyn Miller and Ally Gray 6-1, 6-1.
In mixed doubles action, Tupelo’s Stephen Stone and Lauren Butler needed a tiebreaker to defeat David Hollowell and Anna Bowling 6-4, 0-6 (10-6).

Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal.com