Warren Central wins three championships at Region 4-6A tennis tournament

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

All season long, Tuesday was the day that Warren Central’s tennis team practiced playing tiebreaker sets. This time, the aptly named Tiebreaker Tuesday had another alliterative moniker — Title Tuesday.

The Vikings won three championships — one of them via tiebreaker — and sent nine players on to the Class 6A state tournament at the Region 4-6A individual tournament Tuesday at Halls Ferry Park.

“There was one year that we sent nine, but it’s been a long time. That’s just phenomenal,” Warren Central coach Steve Summers said. “These kids, I work them hard. Days it rains I’ve got them squeegeeing the court so we can work for an hour. There were a couple of days this year where it was 32, 33 degrees and I sent them a message to bundle up because it’s cold but we’re going to have practice. I’m just thrilled for everybody involved.”

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Greyson Parman (boys singles), Gordon Wilkerson and Brayden Robinson (boys doubles) and Laney Smith and Jane Hopson (girls doubles) all won region championships at their respective positions on Tuesday.

Parman blitzed through two matches, only losing a total of three games, to advance to the state tournament for the first time. He beat Greenville’s Karon Cooks 6-0, 6-1 in the finals.

“I felt good. It’s my first time being this deep into the district tournament, so I played a little above my head. All I had to do was win the match before this one to get to state and I was playing for seeding. It’s my first time at state and I want to get as far as possible, so I want the best seed,” said Parman, a senior. “You feel validated for the time that you’ve put on the court this year during practice.”

Wilkerson and Robinson beat Clinton’s Jordan Paul and J.D. Camillo 6-2, 6-1.
In girls’ doubles, the Vikings were assured of winning a title when the final started. Smith and Hopson played their teammates Madison Embry and Elaina Bailey and won in a tiebreaker 6-0, 0-6, 10-1.

The top two finishers at each position advanced to the state tournament, so Embry and Bailey also moved on just by reaching the final. They won two matches before falling to Smith and Hopson.

Also advancing, despite losing in the finals on Tuesday, was the mixed doubles team of Audrey Jennings and John Jabour. They took the first set from Clinton’s Jade Bland and Kevin Zhang before losing the second and then a tiebreaker to fall 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Bland and Zhang won four of the last six points in the tiebreaker after the Warren Central duo had battled back from two points down to tie it at 6.

“I wanted that one bad, but that was a quality team. That was their best boy and their best girl playing together. I knew it was going to be tough, but we came out and showed that we’ve got what it takes to beat them,” Summers said. “I wish we could have got the mixed, but they were both ranked juniors and high quality players. But overall you can’t be happier than with a boys singles championship, a boys doubles championship, a girls doubles championship and a runner-up in mixed. We’ll take it.”

The individual tournament marked the start of a two-pronged playoff road for Warren Central. The top two finishers at each position on Tuesday advanced to the Class 6A individual tournament April 29-May 1 in Oxford.

There is also a team tournament that starts this week. Warren Central, which won the Region 4-6A team championship, will host Desoto Central in a first-round match Thursday at 1 p.m. at Halls Ferry Park.

It’s the first time in years that Warren Central will play a home playoff match, and Parman said it was a big advantage in a situation where there’s a lot of unfamiliarity between the teams.

“We don’t play many people from up north, so we don’t talk to many people from up north. I don’t know any of the names coming from that team. So everybody is playing a surprise. You just have to play your best and hope that’s enough,” Parman said. “Being able to play at home and avoid the four-hour bus ride gives us a little edge, but we’ve still got to come out and play.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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