Oxford storms past Vicksburg|Prep tennis
Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 2, 2009
The Vicksburg Gators weren’t the first team to fall before Oxford’s juggernaut, and they won’t be the last. They’re just the latest.
Showing its superior depth throughout the lineup, Oxford steamrolled Vicksburg 5-2 on Friday in the Class 4A North State finals at Halls Ferry Park. In the five matches Oxford won, it dropped only one set. The decisive victory was the Chargers’ 86th in a row in team competition, and they’ll play for their second consecutive state championship on Monday against Brookhaven.
The last match Oxford lost was early in the 2005 season, but the MHSAA has only sponsored a state tournament for teams since 2008.
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“Pretty much all year, our guys have been a little much for people to handle and today was how the year has been,” Oxford coach Louis Nash said. “We were very solid in spots. We’re fortunate in the fact that we have six kids on both sides that can play. That makes you good at the No. 2 spots and we can be good in the mixed (doubles) or boys singles.”
Vicksburg reached the state semifinals for the first time and finished the season with a 16-3 record. Two of its three losses, to Oxford and Brandon, were to teams that advanced to the state semifinals in their respective classifications.
The Gators also have a chance to do well when the individual tournament starts Monday at Ridgeland Tennis Center. Christine and Catherine Figueroa are the top seed in the No. 1 girls’ doubles tournament, Donald Brown and Perry Tolliver will play in the No. 1 boys’ doubles tournament, and Grace Ga-as and Charlene Figueroa will play in the No. 2 girls doubles tournament.
“We’re 16-3. That’s a great year. We lost to three good teams,” Vicksburg coach Kevin Manton said. “They make my job fun because they want to practice and they want to play.”
Vicksburg won one of the first matches of the day, as Christine Figueroa romped over Erin Dyer 6-0, 6-0. A series of matches ended shortly after, however, and by the time Figueroa wiped the sweat from her face Oxford had clinched the team victory.
Felicity Flesher and Viriginia Terry got the ball rolling with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Vicksburg’s Samantha Briggs and Nikki Thomas in No. 2 girls doubles. Moments later, Oxford’s Jack Barksdale and Michael Stocks wrapped up a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Perry Wolfe and Kiefer Slaton in No. 2 boys doubles, and Alex Mullen beat Darius Valentine in boys singles 6-1, 6-1.
Zach Wilder, Oxford’s top player, then helped earn the clinching point when he teamed with Emilee Smith to beat Perry Tolliver and Grace Ga-as 6-3, 6-1 in mixed doubles.
The flurry of finishes cleared the way, ironically, for the best matches of the day.
In No. 2 boys’ doubles, Brown and Fritz Valerio took Oxford’s Hiroshi Murakawa and Jenner Jordan to the limit. The Vicksburg duo won the first set, but fell in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 10-8.
The day’s final match only went two sets, but lasted nearly two hours. Charlene and Catherine Figueroa, and Oxford’s Mary Bryan Barksdale and Sterling Davis played more than a dozen deuce points in their girls doubles match.
Finally, the Oxford team hit a shot long and the Figueroa sisters had a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Contact Ernest Bowker at firstname.lastname@example.org