Warren Central beats Vicksburg to close in on Region 2-6A tennis championship

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Two years ago, Warren Central’s tennis team endured a winless season and missed the MHSAA team playoffs.

This year, the Vikings will be home for the postseason in a different sense.

Warren Central only lost one match, and did not drop a set in any of the others, as it rolled past crosstown rival Vicksburg High 6-1 Tuesday at Halls Ferry Park.

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With the win, Warren Central clinched homecourt advantage for the first round of the Class 6A playoffs, and it can also secure the Region 2-6A championship be beating Neshoba Central on Thursday.

“It’s super great for all my kids. I really work them hard,” Warren Central coach Steve Summers said. “It’s been an up and down season, but we’ve been rebuilding. Two years ago we went 0-13. Last year we went 4-11. After this match we’re 9-9 with a shot to have a winning record and clinch the district. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Some of the reason for Warren Central’s recent down cycle — and also a reason for optimism — is its youth. There is only one senior, J.T. Crews, on the entire roster.

Crews beat Vicksburg’s Arthur Davis 7-5, 6-3 in boys’ singles on Tuesday for the first win of his varsity career.

Summers said his young players have started to turn a corner this season, which has helped improve their overall record and push them to the brink of a region championship. Warren Central is 9-9 overall, and a perfect 4-0 in region play.

“We’re young. We’re very young. But this year the stress has been a lot less on how young we are and focus more on this is the year to step forward,” Summers said. “You’re only young for a certain amount of time.

Before you become a veteran there’s a period you go through that’s, for the lack of a better term, maturity. That’s what’s happening to us this year. We’ve gone from very young kids who were a little overwhelmed to now we’re going out looking for how we can win.”

How they won Tuesday was with steady play and not a lot of mistakes.

Sam Harris and Charles Harris beat Danny Curry and Khaleb Bailey 6-0, 6-2 in No. 1 boys doubles, while Charlie Esparza and Ivan Ozherelev won 6-1, 6-1 against Gabriel Thompson and Trenton Davis at the No. 2 position.

In mixed doubles, Luke Bond and Sydney Sullivan knocked off Kameryn Bailey and Amnesty Tyler 6-3, 6-2.

And in girls’ doubles, Ellie Tennison and Lilli Feibelman shut out Midori Allen and Mekhayia Smith 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 1 spot; and Laura Bailey and Avery Hern beat Ja’Niegha Thomas and Madisyn Bailey 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2.

“Lilli’s been strong. Ellie has really come on this year, too, and I think they’re going to be something serious to deal with in our individual tournament and at state,” Summers said.

Vicksburg’s only match win came in girls’ singles, where Kennedy Mullins beat Amelia King 6-0, 6-0. The Gators (5-6, 1-3 Region 2-6A) can still earn a berth in the team playoffs if they beat Callaway on April 2 in Jackson.

The top four teams in each region qualify for the playoffs.

“We played today pretty much like I expected we would play. It’s been up and down. We just ran into a better team today,” Vicksburg coach Lee Bell said.

Even if the Gators don’t reach the team playoffs, the MHSAA postseason includes a separate state tournament for individual players. Bell said he believes Mullins and several other players have a chance to qualify for that.

The individual Region 2-6A tournament is April 8 at Halls ferry Park. The team playoffs begin April 11.

“I think overall it’s been a decent season because we’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs. Not only that, we’ve still got a chance to send some individuals to state,” Bell said.

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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