BY JOHN WILBERT
TUPELO - These two high school athletes usually meet on the hardwood, but on Tuesday they would face each other on the hard courts.
Tupelo's Mandy Collins got the best of her former AAU basketball teammate, Alcorn Central's Chelsey Whitaker, in a girls No. 1 doubles match on Tuesday afternoon at the Rob Leake City Park Tupelo Tennis Facility.
Teamed with Tate Davis for the first time since last season, Collins beat Whitaker and her partner Tiffany Burnett 6-1, 6-2. Collins' Golden Wave, led by first-year head coach Sherry Rial, defeated Alcorn Central, 7-0, in the overall team competition.
Collins and Whitaker will soon be facing each other on the junior college basketball circuit in Mississippi.
"She's going to Northeast and I'm going to ICC, so we will be battling the whole entire time."
While it was nice for players such as Collins and Whitaker to play each other, Tuesday's matches also served as a final tuneup for today's individual state qualifying.
The Golden Wave players - who as a team won the Division 2-5A title and will host Northwest Rankin in a MHSAA Class 5A first-round state tournament match at 1 p.m. Friday - will try to qualify in Starkville today for the individual state tourney.
Tupelo's players will compete against players from Grenada, Starkville and Columbus.
Alcorn Central (8-3), on the other hand, will be in Corinth today for individual Class 3A qualifying.
"Our first part of the season is over and the rest of it begins tomorrow," Rial said after her team finished the regular season at 9-3. "I would like to see some of these seniors get a chance to play for an individual state championship."
Cruising in singles
Tupelo senior Catherine Holliday looked impressive in a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Alcorn Central's Monica Pruitt. Holliday, who lost in the individual state finals last season, will play tennis at Belmont University.
Jonathan Doles also won convincingly in his singles match, beating Alcorn's David Hollowell 6-1, 6-0. Doles won the doubles state championship last year with Erek Allen.
"Mainly my volleys really have gotten a lot better," Doles said. "I worked on that a lot this year because that was probably my weak point, and then my serve has gotten a little better."
On the doubles side, senior Jeff Hamm and eighth grader Aaron Hildenbrand defeated Alcorn Central's Ben Ferrell and Matt Murphy 6-3, 6-2 in a boys doubles No. 1 match.
"We worked hard all season and I think we're about to see it pay off," Hamm said.
In the boys No. 2 doubles match, Drew Toppin and Chris White beat Ande Mills and Andrew Ferrell 6-1, 6-0.
It was the Tupelo duo of Leslie Hamm and Bess Ruff winning the girls No. 2 doubles match, 6-0, 6-0, over Amanda Rorie and Anna Bowling of Alcorn Central.
Sophomore Zac Baldwin and eighth grader Kat Stratton gave Tupelo the mixed doubles point by beating Reid Price and Meghan Dooley 6-1, 6-4.
"My mixed played very well today together," said Alcorn Central head coach Nancy Lambert. "I have only recently put those two together.
"Although they lost, they still played very well together."
n Match scores, Page 2B