Gators squeak out another JAMT title|Prep tennis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 7, 2009

With so many matches decided by tiebreakers Friday, it was only fitting that the Julie Abraham Memorial Tournament’s team championship was essentially settled the same way.

Vicksburg High edged Warren Central by one point, 12-11, to claim its fifth consecutive city championship. VHS and WC tied in their matches againat each other, 5-5, but the Gators won thanks to a dominating effort against the third team in the tournament, St. Aloysius.

Vicksburg beat St. Al 7-3. Each match counts for one point in the round-robin. St. Al finished third with eight points.

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“That just goes from having veteran players. Kids that have been through the ringer for a few years,” Vicksburg coach Kevin Manton said of his team’s dominance in the JAMT. “I’m pleased. I saw some good things, some things we need to work on. You learn a lot from playing other people.”

Vicksburg was able to win thanks to a dominating effort from the top of its lineup. The Gators won at four of the five No. 1 positions, only losing at No. 1 doubles. Donald Brown and Christine Figueroa swept the singles titles — Figueroa didn’t lose a game in sweeping past WC’s Shelby Claire Liddell and St. Al’s Ashley Piazza — while the doubles teams of Perry Tolliver and Grace Ga-as and Catherine and Charlene Figueroa also finished first.

Vicksburg wasn’t nearly as strong further down the lineup, however, and with several more matches than in a regular meet being playedWC and St. Al were able to take advantage.

Warren Central picked up four points in boys’ doubles, and four more at No. 2 girls doubles with Lauren Pratt and Katie Humphries. St. Al’s No. 3 boys’ doubles team of Scott McCaa and Nick Mason earned two victories, as did its No. 3 girls doubles team of Cori Vessell and Ryn Martin.

“Some kids surprised me. Some of the younger ones played really well,” St. Al coach Rick Shields said. “We’ve got some seventh and eighth graders that are playing really good tennis.”

And some really competitive tennis. Although most of the matches in the No. 1 slots were one-sided — neither Tolliver and Ga-as, nor the Figueroas’ doubles team dropped a set — the undercard was much more even. Out of 31 total matches, 10 were decided in a tiebreaking third set.

McCaa and Mason, Vessell and Martin, and Pratt and Humphries all won a match in the third set.

Shields said the familiarity of the players from the three local teams led to so many close matches.

“A lot of these kids play with each other quite a bit, and the all play at the same level,” Shields said. “That showed today. Once you get past the Figueroas and the Donald Browns, they’re evenly matched.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at