Flashes cruise to JAMT title

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Warren Central made it an easy day for the St. Aloysius tennis team.

For the first time in the annual Julie Abraham Memorial Tournament’s history, Warren Central did not participate. Jim Hill, out of Jackson, filled in and the tournament went on.

St. Al, which has won all four of its team matches this season, won six of the seven divisions to claim the tournament title over Jim Hill and Vicksburg. The Flashes totaled 12 points. Jim Hill had six and the young Vicksburg Gators had three.

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St. Al coach Rick Shields said it felt odd to not have Warren Central in a tournament that is set up to showcase the city’s three tennis programs.

“Coach (Paige) Pratt said she had some players out and they pulled out,” Shields said.

Shields said with Jim Hill agreeing to participate this year, it might open the tournament up for expansion.

“We’ve discussed the possibility of expanding the tournament to other teams,” Shields said. “I know Jim Hill brought a very good team here.”

That was evident in the match of the day in boys singles. St. Al stalwart Austin Mathis was forced into a tiebreaker against the Tigers’ Devonte Thomas. Playing a pro-set match, the pair were tied at 7 games apiece.

In the tiebreaker, Mathis got out to a 4-2 lead. He aced his next serve, then followed it up by lulling Thomas into a weak volley return to slam home a winner for a commanding 6-2 lead. He closed out the match with a 10-3 tiebreaker win.

“He’s been my toughest opponent this year,” said Mathis, who has won all six of his matches this season. “Devonte is a good player.”

With a couple of players out on a spring retreat, Shields juggled his regular lineup. He had Allie Falls play girls singles and she responded by winning the division. She beat Vicksburg’s Tara Rowell 8-4 in the final.

Ashley Piazza, normally St. Al’s top girls singles player, teamed up with Jean Marie Mabry to roll to a pair of 8-1 wins and take the No. 1 girls doubles title.

St. Al also got division wins from both boys doubles teams, Steven Cialone and Patrick Coccaro in No. 1, and Wylie Paris and Aaron Mathis in No. 2. The No. 2 girls doubles team of Alexa Baldizon and Allison Walsh also won.

Jim Hill won the mixed doubles division. Vicksburg, which won the Class 6A title last year behind the now graduated Christine Figueroa, was second with the team of Ada White and Blake Coomes. Chris Green and Dana Sluis were second in No. 1 boys doubles behind St. Al.