Vicksburg’s Mullins finishes season with run to Class 6A semifinals

Published 11:51 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kennedy Mullins has only been playing tennis for a little more than two years. She’s not the best player in Mississippi — yet — but showed Tuesday that she might get there soon.

The Vicksburg High junior reached the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 6A girls’ singles tournament at Halls Ferry Park before losing 6-1, 6-4 to West Jones’ Marley Brown.

It capped a remarkable season for Mullins in which she won the Region 2-6A championship and her first match in the state tournament. She beat Saltillo’s Carley Fryery 6-3, 6-1 earlier Tuesday.

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“It’s good. It hurts a little when you lose, but I think I did the best I can today,” Mullins said.

Although Mullins was eliminated with a straight-set loss, she made Brown work for the victory. The two played a number of long rallies throughout their 90-minute match, including a pivotal one coming down the stretch in the second set.

Mullins won two consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead, then Brown won the next two to tie it 4-4.

The ninth game went to several advantage points, the last of which went against Mullins when her shot hit the tape on the top of the net and spun back onto her side of the court. The point gave Brown the game and a 5-4 lead in the set, then she closed out the match in the next game.

“I think I was more familiar with her serves and how she hit and everything, and how she plays. I adapted to how she plays,” Mullins said. “Most of my matches are long rallies. This is the first time I’ve played someone that’s just as consistent as me. It was a lot of moving. I think we were both in good shape and we were both pretty tired. I could definitely tell.”

Mullins fought through some adversity in the first set. Her racket strings broke during the second game of the match, forcing her to play the rest of the first set with a loaner.

“This would be the one game my strings break,” Mullins said with a laugh. “It was just a random racket they had that they gave me.”

Her racket was restrung in time for the second set, which she said helped her get back into the match.

“It hurt because it’s a lot heavier than my racket. My arms aren’t very strong,” Mullins said of the borrowed racket she had to use. “She was really good and earned that first set, but I would’ve performed better with another racket. I would’ve given her a fight.”

Brown advanced to face Grenada’s Shanvi Kher for the girls’ singles championship Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. All of the Class 4A, 6A and 7A individual singles and doubles championship matches will be played at Halls Ferry Park beginning at 8:45 a.m.

The Class 6A quarterfinals and semifinals were played Tuesday. A pair of Warren Central’s doubles teams were in the tournament but neither advanced.

The boys’ doubles team of Sam Harris and Brady Taylor were blitzed 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals by Saltillo’s Weston Clayton and Brady Bruce.

In mixed doubles, Sydney Sullivan and Luke Bond lost 6-2, 6-3 to Saltillo’s Jace Stanley and Leah Bruce.
Although it was a disappointing final chapter to the Vikings’ season, coach Steve Summers had a hard time finding the negative in the bigger picture.

Of the four players who made the state tournament, Taylor is a freshman and the other three are sophomores. Sullivan and Bond won the Region 2-6A championship in mixed doubles, and Warren Central reached the second round of the team playoffs before getting eliminated by eventual Class 6A champion Saltillo.

Besides this season’s accomplishments, Summers was excited about the bright future for the program.

“If you don’t get in situations like this, if you’re not ever playing with that intensity, you cannot simulate this in practice. So I’m super proud that they were able to compete,” Summers said. “Even though we did not show as well, the experience is invaluable. What’s more is that they see where they have to get to. Nothing but positives.”

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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