Warren Central’s Jennings, Allen advance to Class 6A tennis tournament
Published 8:47 pm Monday, April 3, 2023
For six years, Audrey Jennings has been a part of Warren Central’s tennis team. Now a senior, her competitive career is winding down — but it’s not over just yet.
Jennings beat Pearl’s Samantha Nely 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the MHSAA Region 6-6A girls’ singles tournament on Monday to clinch a spot in the Class 6A individual state tournament later this month.
Jennings lost to Northwest Rankin’s Ansley Tomkins 6-3, 6-2 in the championship match, but still will play in the state tournament for the fifth time in six seasons. The only one she missed was the 2020 tournament that was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Jennings has played doubles in her other four state tournaments, but this time will go it alone in singles.
“I know last year I said we want it and then we didn’t win it, so I’m going to keep it cool,” Jennings said. “I hope for the best, and I have to play at my best and see how far that gets me.”
The state tournament is April 24-27 in Oxford, and will be Jennings’ farewell to organized competitive tennis. She had several offers to play at the junior college level, but has decided instead to be a regular student at Mississippi State.
Warren Central lost to Ocean Springs in the Class 6A team playoffs last week.
“It’s a little sad, because I have been doing it forever. It’s kind of normal, when January hits I’m on my ballgame. Now it’s not. So I’m putting my all in it,” she said, adding that it’ll feel strange when tennis season approaches in 2024. “I’ll be at a big college, I’ll probably be in a sorority, but I’ll be like, ‘I’m supposed to be on a tennis court right now and not in a dorm room.”
Jennings is not the only Warren Central player who advanced to the state tournament. Her fellow senior Blakeney Allen finished as the Region 6-6A runner-up in boys’ singles to punch his ticket. The top two finishers in each region advance to state.
Allen beat Pearl’s A.E. Farrar 6-0, 6-1 in the first round and then lost to Northwest Rankin’s Carter Do 6-3, 6-3 in the final.
The rest of the Vikings’ roster had their season end Monday on the hard courts at Halls Ferry Park.
Both of Warren Central’s girls’ doubles teams — Laura Bailey and Amelia King, and Sydney Sullivan and Lili Feibelman — won their opening-round matches but lost in the semifinals of the eight-team bracket.
Bailey and King fell to Northwest Rankin’s Jordan Dennis and Anna McKee 6-0, 6-0. Sullivan and Feibelman also lost to a Northwest Rankin pairing, Abby Thornton and Anna Sherman 6-0, 6-0.
Dennis and McKee beat Thornton and Sherman 7-5, 6-3 for the region title.
In boys’ doubles, both Warren Central teams bowed out in the first round.
Charles Harris and Charlie Esparza lost to Pearl’s Oakley Bounds and Michael Robinson, while Luke Bond and Duke Esparza lost to Pearl’s Aiden Lowry and Jaxon Brewer.
Om Patel and James Parelli defeated their Northwest Rankin teammates Chris Shields and Jon Sasser 7-5, 6-2 in the championship round.
In mixed doubles, Warren Central’s Gracie Summers and Sam Harris dropped a tough 7-6, 7-6 decision to Pearl’s Brayden McCool and Kai Jenkins in the first round.
McCool and Jenkins then lost to Northwest Rankin’s Sloan Berry and Will Rich in the final, 6-3, 6-0.