PCA’s Azlin, Slayton come up just short in quest for tennis state title

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Porter’s Chapel Academy’s Thomas Azlin and Henry Slayton built quite a long-running rivalry with St. Augustine’s Harrison Murray and Will Philip Wilson this tennis season.

Their final showdown was, fittingly, competitive and close. Unfortunately for Azlin and Slayton, it did not end the way they’d hoped.

The Porter’s Chapel pair zipped through the first set before hitting a wall in the second and third, and lost 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Murray and Wilson in the championship match of the MAIS Class 3A No. 1 boys’ doubles tournament Wednesday in Ridgeland.

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“The big thing was we played hard, tough games and could not close them,” PCA coach Joseph Jabour said. “None of the games were blowouts. The third set, especially, a lot of the games were going to deuce.”

Wednesday’s state championship match marked the third consecutive postseason tournament in which the two doubles teams have met in the finals. Azlin and Slayton won in the District 4-3A tournament, while Murray and Wilson won at South State.

Each team breezed through the semifinals Wednesday. Azlin and Slayton beat Tunica Academy’s Mac Sullivan and Edwyn Villanueva 6-1, 6-0, while Murray and Wilson won 6-0, 6-0 against the Regents School’s Stephen Williams and Harrison Yow.

Azlin and Slayton shut out the St. Augustine pair in the first set of the finals and won the first game of the second set as well. Then Murray and Wilson grinded through the next three games to eventually go up 4-1.

They kept up the pressure and won the last two sets by identical 6-3 scores.

“They played close the first couple games in the second set and had deuce a lot. (St. Augustine) got a quick break and pulled away,” Jabour said.

Although they couldn’t claim a state championship, Azlin and Slayton did help put Porter’s Chapel Academy tennis on the map in MAIS Class 3A.

The school’s tennis program was started only three years ago, and this was the second time Azlin and Slayton reached the state tournament. Slayton got there in boys’ singles last year, and Azlin while playing mixed doubles with Slayton’s sister Hadleigh.

Azlin, a senior, played his last high school match on Wednesday but Slayton is only a junior and has one more season.

Besides the doubles’ team, Noah Labarre reached the South State tournament and three courts were eliminated in the district tournament on third-set tiebreakers. For a program still in its infancy, Jabour said it was a great season.

“They put in a lot of really hard work and trust in me. It’s really impressive what they’ve done,” Jabour said. “I’m really proud of them. They’ve worked really hard.”