By R. Alan Richardson
The Morgan County girls’ tennis team is State-bound after hosting the 2019 Region 8-AAA Tennis Tournament this week and taking second place behind a strong Jefferson squad. They dispatched Monroe and Hart along the way to the Championship round and put up a valiant effort in the finals to the Lady Dragons.
Morgan played Westminster at home Tuesday in the first round of the GHSA State Tennis Playoffs after our deadline. Details on that match will be available for our readers next week.
The boys didn’t fare quite as well falling to Franklin County in first-round Region Tournament action. It was a heart-rending affair that went down to the final match of the series with the Dogs falling 3-2. The Dogs were in the driver’s seat early after winning the number one singles and number one doubles matches in decisive fashion. However, after winning the first set at number two doubles and number two singles, Morgan couldn’t quite finish the drill losing both in dramatic third-set finishes. At number three singles, a first set tiebreaker gave Franklin the first-set lead before losing in the second set. All-in-all it was an exciting match where no player should have left the court with their heads down.
Coach Stacy Dearing said, “Our boys fought so hard. Our number one doubles team of John Cardwell and Owen Anderson won their line. As seniors, they led the team through the season. Joah Plumley also took a win for us as well at number one singles. Then, it came down to the wire. I am so proud of our number two and number three singles, Wyatt Breedlove and Will Thompson. The pressure was on and they carried themselves with tremendous poise and fight; especially young Will Thompson! A freshman and in his first year with us, he has been a tremendous asset to the team. I love how he rises to the challenge and fights for every point; even under the pressure that the Region Tournament holds on our turf in front of our hometown crowd. Our number two doubles team just couldn’t pull it out.
Overall I am very proud of these young men. I’m going to miss our seniors terribly. I was assistant coach to Coach Greg Thompson when they were freshmen and have had three years with them as head coach. I have learned a lot from them and I hope they learned a little from me. I’ve known these young men since they were in the third and fourth grade. It pains me to see them go, but I know they are off to a wonderful future. They are smart leaders and true sportsmen. I hope they continue to play tennis. The sport needs young men like these and they need it. I hope they remain as dedicated to the sport of tennis as they were to this team. Each of them is a true team player and hung in there with me for four years. Each of them poses strong leadership qualities and team commitment. Best of luck to them as they move forward.”
The girls took on Monroe Area in first round action and swept the Lady Hurricanes. Karlie Lane won her number one singles match 0-0 and Sarah Moore dispatched her opponent 0-1 in straight sets. The number one (McCall Chamberlain/Rachel Dickson) and two doubles (Paschal/Brown) teams also won 0-0 for the victory.
Next up for the Lady Dogs was Hart County. The girls won their first top three lines, but according to Dearing, it might have been the win at number two doubles that made the difference. She said, “McCall and Rachel’s third set tiebreaker win sealed the deal for the Championship round. After winning the first set 6-2, they lost the second 3-6. They fought hard in the heat and dug super deep to take that third set tiebreaker 7-6 in the 7-2 tiebreaker. It was huge for us and they deserve a lot of credit.”
Against a very good Jefferson team in the finals, the MOCO came up a little short. Dearing noted, “The all-around improvement we showed was tremendous. They played their hearts out and played like Champions. Earlier this year, Karlie may have won only one or two games against their number one singles player. She played like the true competitor she is losing only 6-4, 6-2. She wanted it so badly and played with some true grit. At number three singles, our “little fighter” Abby Adams only lost 6-2, 7-5. She showed why we call her that. Abby just never gives up.”
With private school perennial powerhouse Westminster coming to Morgan this week, the Lady Dogs will have their hands full, but don’t count them out. “We have the home court advantage and will have lots of support from the community, parents, and fans. As the probable underdog in this one, we’ve got nothing to lose,” said the head coach.