Two St. Al doubles teams win South State tennis championships

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

When they played in the MAIS Class 5A state tennis tournament last year, James Powell said he and doubles partner Walker Lambiotte were a bit too timid on the big stage.

This time around, they might be the ones to fear.

Powell and Lambiotte cruised through two matches Tuesday to win the No. 2 boys’ doubles title at the Class 5A South State tournament at Halls Ferry Park.

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Powell and Lambiotte also won the District 3-5A title last week and have not dropped a set in four postseason matches. The two St. Aloysius juniors will go for the state title next Tuesday in Ridgeland.

“I learned that we need to stop playing scared. Because last year we were winning our match, and then we got scared and choked and lost. We just need to play our game and play how we know how to,” Powell said. “We’re a lot more confident because we both have been hitting better. We switched up how we do things a little bit more. We’re both more aggressive, too.”

Powell and Lambiotte won their first match Tuesday 6-0, 6-0 against a duo from Silliman. They then defeated Madison-St. Joseph’s David Dear and Walt Williams 6-4, 6-1 in the championship match.

“We’ve played them before and they’re pretty competitive with us,” Lambiotte said of Dear and Williams. “I think this time we just managed to put a lot of work into practice and hit our shots that we’re taught to hit.”

Powell and Lambiotte were not the only St. Al players to advance to the state tournament — nor were they the only ones to win the South State title.

The No. 1 girls’ doubles team of Carrie Woods and Ali Blackburn beat Cathedral’s Natalie Smith and Lacey Welch 7-6 (12-10), 6-2 in the championship match.

Woods and Blackburn also had to win a second-set tiebreaker to beat a Brookhaven Academy team 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinals. They’re each headed to the state tournament for the second time, but the first time as a doubles team.

“I’ve cheered with her, and she’s been my best friend throughout it, and it’s been awesome. It’s like a big sister-little sister duo,” Blackburn said.

In No. 2 girls’ doubles, St. Al’s Sarah Beth Johnston and Olivia Larsen lost their first round match 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to a duo from Brookhaven.

Walker Moore lost 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 2 boys’ singles championship match, but still advanced to the state tournament. The top two finishers at South and North State moved on.

Moore defeated Brookhaven’s J. Parker Walts 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.

In No. 1 boys’ doubles, Madison-St. Joe’s Derek Starling and Jonathan Warnock got the best of St. Al’s Noah Taylor and Ryan Davidson in their running feud, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.

It was the third time the teams have played this season. Starling and Warnock also beat Taylor and Davidson at the District 3-5A tournament last week.

Taylor and Davidson won 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) vs. Brookhaven in their first match.

“The first match, I think we had really good communication and team work. That’s really important in doubles,” Davidson said. “I think our lobs were better. They were deeper. We kept hitting it short in this last one and they were getting to it.”

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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