St. Al’s Neill takes second at Wilkerson tournament

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2003

[3/31/03]Bonney Neill hadn’t played a competitive singles match in nearly two years before this weekend’s George Wilkerson Memorial youth tennis tournament at Halls Ferry Park.

On Sunday, she made up for lost time.

Neill, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at St. Aloysius, survived a three-hour, three-set semifinal match with top-seeded Lindsay Summers of Ridgeland before falling to Clinton’s Ashton Hartley in the finals of the girls’ 14-year-olds tournament, 6-2, 6-2.

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“I haven’t played singles in two years. I’ve been playing doubles at St. Al for the last two years, so I was surprised to get that far,” Neill said. “I just came out for the fun of it.”

Neill cruised in her first-round match, beating Lucy Wilson of Brookhaven 6-2, 6-0, before running into Summers.

Neill won the first set, 7-6 (9-7), then dropped the second set 4-6. The final set went to another tiebreaker, with Neill finally firing the last winner to take the set 7-6 (9-7), and the match.

“That was a long match, but we split so that was what made it long,” Neill said. “I just wanted to win, because I was playing all that time.”

In the championship match, however, fatigue caught up to Neill. She double-faulted on several serves in the second set and had numerous unforced errors as the second-seeded Hartley rolled to the win.

“I couldn’t get anything to fall in,” Neill said. “My volleys weren’t good, and my feet hurt.”

In other age groups:

Kristen Eley of Flowood won three matches in the round-robin format to claim the girls’ 10-year-olds championship. Davis Beard of Natchez finished second after losing to Eley, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6.

Madison’s Molly Nicholas, the top seed in the girls’ 12-year-olds’ bracket, beat Brookhaven’s Nicole Smith 6-2, 7-5 in the championship match.

Brandon’s Mary Jo Morlino swept her three round-robin matches to win the girls’ 16-year-olds’ championship. Madison’s Audra Nicholas was second.

In the boys’ 12-year-olds’ age group, Vicksburg’s Clayton Koestler won his first-round match against Nicholas Eley of Flowood, 6-1, 6-7, 7-6 (7-5), but lost to eventual champion Farris Miller of Jackson in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-1.

Koestler then fell to Jackson’s Phillip Johnson in the consolation match, 6-1, 6-2.

Vicksburg resident Steven Faulks beat Mitchell Smith of Mount Olive 6-0, 6-2 in the first round of the boys’ 14-year-olds bracket, then dispatched Tyler Shows of Petal 6-1, 6-2, in the semifinals.

Faulks’ run ended in the championship match, however, with a 0-6, 0-6 loss to Madison’s Jacob Womack.

Clinton’s Cory Seay swept his three round-robin matches, including a 6-1, 6-0 win over Claude Freeman of Sibley, to win the boys’ 16-year-olds’ championship.

Florence’s Andrew Brewer beat Vicksburg residents Stephen Mason and Keith Klaus, as well as second-place finisher Vincent Sanders of Greenville, to sweep his round-robin matches and win the boys’ 18-year-olds’ championship.