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City teams hit last leg of season with JAMT

[4/23/04]Normally, the Julie Abraham Memorial Tournament is a nice springtime diversion for Warren County’s tennis teams. This year, it’s serving as a healthy tuneup for next week’s state tournament.

St. Aloysius, Vicksburg High and Warren Central will meet today at 3:30 p.m. at Halls Ferry Park for the 15th annual JAMT. The round-robin tournament will provide all three teams a chance to adjust to the grueling pace of next week’s state championships, where players will face two matches a day to advance.

“I think it’s going to be a benefit to us to play a match instead of trying to practice. You’d always rather play,” VHS coach Kevin Manton said.

Vicksburg has the tournament’s most dominant player, sophomore Jordan Henry, but Warren Central is a favorite to win the team title today. The Vikings beat both St. Al and VHS earlier this season, and have four of their five positions participating in the state tournament.

“We beat Vicksburg and St. Al already in our regularly-scheduled matches, and I foresee a victory tomorrow,” first-year WC coach Vickie Bailey said on Thursday. “If they come out and play like they’ve been playing, we should be the team to beat.”

First-year St. Al coach Leonard Banks wasn’t so quick to give the tournament to the Vikings, however. He noted that both matches between St. Al and WC were close, and the Flashes were missing key players both times.

“We beat Vicksburg 10-0, and Warren Central barely beat us because we had a couple of people out,” said Banks, whose squad will have two doubles teams playing at the state tournament. “It’s really up for grabs, and it should be interesting to see who grabs it.”

Bailey added that she was looking forward to the match between Henry and WC’s Eike Duen in boys’ singles. Henry won easily in their previous meetings this year, but Henry’s ball-control style and Duen’s power game should provide an interesting match.

“(Duen’s) goal is to try and beat Henry. He hasn’t done it yet, and he’s not going to state, so that’s his goal,” Bailey said.

Manton, meanwhile, was hoping Henry could get some competition. Henry, one of the top junior players in the South, also plays on Vicksburg’s baseball team. He often jets in for matches and leaves just as quickly, leaving a bewildered opponent and a trail of love games in his wake.

“It would help Jordan to play a competitive match before state,” Manton said. “He really hasn’t been tested.”