By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress-Times
That was the lesson East Webster High School tennis coach Pam Champion had for her tennis teams over the last couple weeks of the season.
“They needed to remember that we weren’t finished yet, that we had something left to do,” Champion said.
The Wolverines got that task accomplished last Wednesday when they rolled to an impressive 7-0 win over Clarkdale at Parham Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson to win the MHSAS Class 2A State Team Tennis Championship. It was the first team state tennis title in school history.
“It was a big accomplishment for us, but it wasn’t easy,” Champion said. Despite the 7-0 score, several of the matches went into a third-set tie-breaker to determine the winner.
The mixed doubles team of Samuel Butler and Holly Ellis took a 6-3, 5-7 10-7 win, while the girls No. 2 doubles team of JonHayden Hancock and Mary Mae Turner won 6-1, 2-6, 10-5, and the No. 2 boys doubles team of John Carpenter and Jake Wofford were victorious 6-0, 3-6, 10-3.
“Those were all tough matches that we had to really fight for,” Champion said.
In other matches on Wednesday John Taylor Champion and Rhett Parker won 6-0, 6-1 in No. 1 boys doubles; while Claire Ferguson and Taylor Davis took a 6-3, 6-0 win in girls No. 1 doubles; Hayden Hill won 6-1, 6-0 in girls singles; and Hunter McCarter took a solid 6-2, 6-1 win in boys singles.
That success continued on Thursday and Friday as East Webster took home a pair of state titles in the MHSAA Class 2A State Individual State Tournament as well.
Hill, who was seeded No. 1 in girls singles, had little trouble winning her four matches, taking a 6-0, 6-1 win in the finals. The mixed doubles team of Butler and Ellis also won a state crown, defeating the team from Madison St. Joe 7-5, 6-2 in the finals.
“The mixed doubles field was exceptionally strong,” Champion said. “It seemed like everybody had a good mixed doubles team and there were four of them that were right there at the top.”
Butler has been chosen to take part in the MHSAA All-Star Tennis event set for July 17 in Jackson. Champion will be one of the coaches for the North team.
While they didn’t’ get a chance to play in the state championship match, Champion noted that there were others that made strong contributions to the team during the season to help them get to the title match. Among them were seniors Meagan Dean and Ariel DeCoteau, as well as Walker Johnson who had to step in for a sick teammate in the 2A North State title match with Union.
One of the big hurdles for East Webster was cleared in the North State semifinals when the Wolverines defeated nemesis Madison St. Joe. Champion was afraid her team might have a let down after that big match, but EW went on to take care of Union and Clarkdale to win the championship. That’s where focus came in.
“They knew the pressure was on them (once they beat St. Joe),” Champion said. “I was a little concerned how we might play after that match, but we came out and competed and played well. I think they may have been a little nervous at first (against Clarkdale), but we settled down and played good tennis.”