River Oaks claims South tennis title

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Behind the stellar play of seniors Tyler Metzger, Mickel Husted and Sam Herman, River Oaks&8217; boys tennis team won the MPSA Class A South State Tournament at Duncan Park for the third year in a row.

&8220;I&8217;m proud of them,&8221; River Oaks coach Cheryl Metzger said. &8220;I&8217;m going to miss them. They&8217;re a good group of seniors. We won in boys singles. I had two doubles teams that I knew had the potential and they did it. We had six seniors. The next year will be a whole different year.&8221;

River Oaks&8217; boys team finished with 16 total points, easily outdistancing second-place Tensas Academy, which ended up with seven points.

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But perhaps the biggest surprise was that River Oaks&8217; girls tennis team could not duplicate the three-peat that its boys team did. Instead, Franklin Academy&8217;s girls team won its first-ever South State championship.

&8220;I had a lot of confidence,&8221; Franklin Academy coach Noble Ellington said. &8220;This is a good group of girls. They&8217;ve played well all year. Four of our teams are going to State, which is more than we&8217;ve ever had. They really wanted this.&8221;

And more importantly, Franklin Academy&8217;s girls wanted to knock their main rival off their throne and call themselves Class A South State Champions.

&8220;The girls stepped up their play at South State,&8221; Ellington said. &8220;They fought hard for every point and it paid off. River Oaks has been our rival. They played some strong matches this year.&8221;

Franklin Academy&8217;s girls team had 10 1/2 points and held off late charges by Briarfield, which came in second with nine points, and River Oaks, which finished in third place with eight points. Huntington was fourth with six points.

Weather forced tournament director and Huntington coach Emily Guida to start play at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, which started with eight semifinal matches at Duncan Park and the semifinal matches in No. 1 and No. 2 girls doubles at Trinity. All of the finals matches were played at Duncan Park.

And it was the right call as rain and thunderstorms were approaching the area from the north and the west, but only a few sprinkles fell at Duncan Park around noon.

Tyler Metzger, the No. 1 seed in No. 1 boys singles, had little problem defeating No. 2 seed Alec Thornton of Tensas Academy in the finals, 6-1, 6-0. It was Metzger&8217;s fourth straight South State title in No. 1 boys singles.

&8220;I was playing really good today,&8221; Tyler Metzger said. &8220;I was hitting my shots like I was supposed to. I was on today. I don&8217;t know if (Thornton) played his best today, but he&8217;s really good.&8221;

Husted, the No. 1 seed in No. 2 boys singles for the second year in a row, edged past No. 2 seed Darren Collie of Franklin Academy in the finals, 6-4, 6-4. This was the second straight year that Husted won South State in this division.

&8220;It was a rough match,&8221; Husted said. &8220;He&8217;s (Collie) a good tennis player. He was winning 2-0 and I was down the whole first set. I came back and won three games in a row to win the first set. The second set was the same way.&8221;

The unranked team of Breard and William Currie upset No. 2 seed Hunter Hale and Bennett Schauf of Tensas Academy in the finals in No. 2 boys doubles, 7-5, 7-6 (4).

&8220;They&8217;re really good,&8221; Hale said. &8220;We had them 2-0 in the beginning and we blew it. The next set they had us 3-0 and we came back. Then it was 5-3 and we came back. Hopefully, we&8217;ll see them again at State.&8221;

&8220;We didn&8217;t play as well as we did last year, but we did good,&8221; Tensas coach Lesley Capdepon said. &8220;I teamed Ish Crigler and Jordan Leeke this year and put them in No. 1 girls doubles. They&8217;ll be a team to watch.&8221;

Huntington had two teams advance to the Class A State Tournament, which will be held Wednesday at Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson. And each team has a daughter of Huntington&8217;s Penny Moak in there.

And one of those teams pulled off a shocking upset win in the finals. The mixed doubles team of junior Katie Moak and Stan Hazlip, the No. 2 seed in mixed doubles, rallied to defeat the top-seeded team of Brooke Fenn and Jack McCoy of Franklin Academy, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.

&8220;It was tough,&8221; Katie Moak said. &8220;They were really good players. Both sides hustled and gave their all. We were confident all the time. It feels great. Definitely the highlight of my high school career.&8221;

Moak and Hazlip got to the finals by holding off unseeded Mary Ann Lensing and Cain Oswalt in a three-set thriller in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

The other team going to State is the No. 1 girls doubles team of ninth-grader Julie Moak and Mollye Ashmore. Moak and Ashmore, the No. 2 seed, advanced by rallying to defeat Tallulah&8217;s Anna and Katie Book, who are twin sisters in the eighth grade, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinals at Trinity. Moak and Ashmore, however, lost in the finals to another pair of sisters, senior Callie and sophomore Lori Lensing of Briarfield, the No. 1 seed, 6-0, 6-1.

&8220;I am very proud of them for playing at State,&8221; Guida said. &8220;They are very deserving and work hard. They are all experienced players.&8221;

Oddly enough, it was the play of the girls doubles&8217; and mixed doubles teams that helped Franklin Academy hold off River Oaks.