Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School sophomore Paige Foster, left, and doubles teammate freshman Grace Anne White practice at Duncan Park to prepare for the District 7 Region 3 tournament on April 8. Foster and White are hoping to use the upcoming tournament to qualify for the state tournament in doubles play.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School sophomore Paige Foster, left, and doubles teammate freshman Grace Anne White practice at Duncan Park to prepare for the District 7 Region 3 tournament on April 8. Foster and White are hoping to use the upcoming tournament to qualify for the state tournament in doubles play.

Tennis tournament may line up Cathedral teammates

Published 12:06am Monday, April 7, 2014

NATCHEZ — At the conclusion of Tuesday’s District 7 Region 3 tournament that decides which tennis players make a state tournament berth, an unusual circumstance could occur.

Because the Cathedral Green Wave won district as a team, the Green Wave’s singles and doubles will be seeded No. 1 at Duncan Park for today’s matchup against three-seed Bogue Chitto. Should Cathedral win each matchup and defeat second-seeded Piney Woods, the finals of the tournament could showcase teammate versus teammate, which would be new for doubles’ teammates Grace Anne White and Paige Foster.

Paige said it would be weird to play against Wesley Callaway and Natalie Fletcher in the finals.

“We’ve never had to do that before,” Paige said. “We came close to doing it last year, and we play against them in practice. I just hope the best team wins, so Cathedral can win state.”

To make the circumstance stranger, Paige’s mother, Beth Foster, is the coach of the team.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School junior Mark Iles returns a serve in practice.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School junior Mark Iles returns a serve in practice.

“I’ve got a daughter on the team, so it’s really hard,” Beth said. “I would be thrilled for Wesley to win too because she’s my only senior on the team.”

Paige joked at Cathedral’s practice Wednesday, saying her mother doesn’t watch her enough, and Beth corrected her daughter, reminding her of why she became the coach two years ago in the first place.

“She’s saying, ‘why won’t you watch me?’ and I tell her, “You’re the one who talked me into coaching,” Beth said.

Competing in the boys doubles will be R.J. Givens and Evan Webber on one team and Will Sandel and Silas Whitaker on the other.  Mark Iles will compete in singles action after trying mixed doubles as a sophomore a year ago. Beth gave Iles the choice to play singles or mixed doubles again, and Iles had his doubts about a singles’ run earlier in the year.

“I didn’t really know at the beginning when she gave me a choice,” Iles said. “The partner I had last year, she was really good. I guess I became set on playing singles this year, because she was the main partner I wanted to play with.”

Since regaining his focus on singles again, he’s beaten opponent in district.

“He eats, breaths and sleeps tennis,” Beth said. “He’s just a phenomenal athlete.”

Growing up, Iles would go to Duncan Park at 8 a.m. and play tennis until 8 p.m. every day. “I can’t do that anymore,” Iles said. “But I’m still out here from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day.”

His hard work is going to pay off, Beth said. She is confident that 2014 will be Iles’ year to compete for a championship at state.

“This year it’s different,” Beth said. “He wants it. And I’ll tell you one thing — you don’t want to be behind the ball he’s hitting.”