Local women’s tennis team wins state title

Published 12:30 am Thursday, June 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — After several years of almost doing it, the Stout-Southwest tennis team finally came out on top.

The team defeated the Moore-Jackson team in the final round of the Mississippi Tennis Association Women’s 3.5 state championship June 12 in Biloxi. The Southwest team, which is based out of Duncan Park, will now move on to USTA regional play in Birmingham, Ala., July 24-27.

“They play out here year in and year out, and never had a chance to go to state. This year, they put together a good team and were able to come out on top,” said Henry Harris, Duncan Park’s tennis director.

Harris said the city’s seniors team also played in their state championship a few weeks ago. The seniors didn’t win due to a technicality, which Harris wouldn’t elaborate on, but he said he was happy those ladies got a chance to win it all in the 3.5 matches.

“Some of those ladies are also on the 3.5 team, so it’s good that they got a chance to win a state championship after being denied,” Harris said.

The Southwest team went 8-0 in its district during the regular season, but went 2-2 in Flight 1 during the opening matches June 10 and 11. In the championship finals, however, they beat Deleon-Jackson three matches to two, and got pitted up with Moore-Jackson in the final matches.

“We lost to them in the earlier rounds. They’re notorious for having strong teams, but I felt like we could beat them,” said Lou Ellen Stout, the Southwest team captain.

And beat them they did, taking three matches out of five against Moore-Jackson to take the crown.

Stout said the ladies from the seniors team made a big difference for them in Biloxi.

“It was hot. We had 8:00 matches in the morning, and then afternoon matches, and we really pulled it out,” Stout said.

“Most of our team is from the seniors team, and they deserve a lot of credit. It’s always a team win, but they especially stepped up for us.”

Pat Dickens, who played for the seniors team as well as the Southwest 3.5 team, said she’s expecting the same hot weather in Birmingham later this summer.

“It was so hot in Biloxi that several people were carted off to the hospital,” Dickens said.

“I imagine it’ll be the same in Birmingham. I’m unfamiliar with what’s up there, but it’s my understanding that they have excellent facilities. I expect nothing but 100 percent from our team. We’re all good friends, and we’ll have a good time and try to represent Mississippi and advance to nationals.”

For now, Dickens is savoring the victory she and her teammates got at the state level.

“It meant quite a lot to everyone on the team. It’s a great accomplishment. We all worked hard, and it’s a good feeling to advance,” she said.