By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – There’s no reason to believe today’s MHSAA Class 6A state semifinals tennis match between Tupelo and Madison Central will be anything but close.
The teams have played twice this season and have split – both winning by scores of 4-3.
The third match, played today in Madison, will determined the North’s representative in next week’s state championship match at the Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson.
“It’s always going to be a tight match,” Tupelo coach Laurie Bishop said. “It’s never a runaway for either team.”
Tupelo (12-3) reached the semifinals with its 6-1 victory Tuesday against visiting Clinton at Rob Leake City Park courts.
In singles, Tupelo’s Sebastian Rios beat Brandon Zetterholm 6-0, 6-0 and Jessie Nabors stopped Megan Holmes 6-3, 6-4. Both Tupelo players eighth graders
In boys doubles, the No. 1 team of sophomore Andrew Hildenbrand and seventh grader Eric Huey beat Paul Pratt and Brandon Doyle 6-0, 6-0.
“We play well together,” Hildenbrand said. “We’re active at the net and our serves are big. Most of all, we don’t give up.”
However, there’s a chance Hildenbrand and Huey, undefeated in five matches this season, will not be paired for today’s match against Madison Central. The reason … strategy.
“The team’s pretty much even,” Huey said. It’s all about the lineup.”
“(Coach Bishop) might switch it up a little,” Hildenbrand said, referring to the pairings for today.
Bishop said her focus will be to put her players in the best position to win.
“We’ve got to go out there and win the ones that count,” she said.
In Tuesday’s other matches, Mitch Ostrander and Robert Thompson won 6-4, 6-3 in No. 2 doubles. In girls doubles, Briley Chrisman and Sarah Watkins were 6-2, 6-4 winners while Emily Carter and Megan Ware took a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
In mixed doubles, Sarah Lambert Hollingsworth and Hogan Harrington lost 3-6, 6-1, 0-1 (9-11).