By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo tennis coach Sherry Rial has a good problem – too many players.
More than 90 prospective players tried out for the Golden Wave in the preseason. Rial kept 52 for junior varsity and varsity matches this spring.
“It makes it harder to decide who’s going to play, but it’s a good problem to have,” Rial said. “It’s very exciting; we have a lot of good, young talent.
“Overall, they’re very hard working. We just need some match experience.”
Tupelo gained some winning experience Monday, defeating defending 4A state champion New Albany 4-3 at Rob Leake City Park courts in its home opener.
The Golden Wave (1-1) lost its season opener two weeks ago to Grenada, 5-2.
Tupelo swept singles play with Andrew Hildenbrand beating Thomas Mills 6-0, 6-0 and Casey Marshall, a transfer from Kentucky, defeating Olivia Dunnam 6-3, 6-1.
The Golden Wave’s Zac Baldwin and Aaron Hildenbrand downed Cam Clark and Justin Jarvis 6-1, 6-1 in No. 1 doubles while teammates Lauren Bell and Sarah Lambert Hollings-worth beat Molly Morris and Maegan Trexler 6-2, 7-6 in girls No. 1 doubles.
Baldwin is expected to sign later this season with Huntington (Ala.) College, an NCAA Division III program in Montgomery.
New Albany (0-3) saw Mark Robbins and Hunter Surles defeat Joel Baldwin and Will Otis 6-0, 6-1 in boys No. 2 doubles while Elleigh Hall and Hannah Anderson beat Leslie Hamm and Bailey Chrisman 6-4, 6-1 in girls No. 2 doubles.
The Bulldogs also won mixed doubles with Adam Coombs and Whitney Littlejohn defeating Kat Stratton and Austin Pillow 7-6, 6-2.
New Albany coach Warner Creekmore lost six starters from last season’s state championship squad that defeated St. Stanilaus, 4-3, at Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson.
“I think the kids we have now have potential,” she said. “They going to have to step up and come on.”
Tupelo, which won three consecutive state titles before missing the state finals last season, does not have a set lineup, Rial said.
“We’re letting the kids challenge each other (for playing time),” she said. “We’re going to mix it up a lot before we begin division play. You have to have the right chemistry in doubles.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org