By Rocky Higginbotham
Webster Progress Times
The East Webster duo of John Carpenter and Rhett Parker blitzed their way through the field last week to claim the Class 1A-2A boys’ doubles championship at the MHSAA State High School Individual Tennis Championships.
Carpenter and Parker were the No. 1 seed entering the three-day tournam ent, and they played like it throughout.
They opened the tourney with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Brantley Brister and Tucker Hoegins of Loyd Star, then the East Webster duo beat Enterprise-Lincoln’s Toby White and Zach Hodges 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
In the semis, Carpenter and Parker won 6-1, 6-1 over the No. 4 seeded Tanner Bevard and Will Parker of Sacred Heart. And in the championship, they topped No. 3 seeded Parks Harrison and Will Leathers of Tupelo Christian Prep School, 6-4, 6-4.
Carpenter and Parker’s state title capped a good week for representatives from both East Webster and Eupora in the individual tennis tourney. East Webster had a qualified entrant in all five events at the state tourney, while Eupora qualified in four of the five events.
Here’s a rundown of how those competitors fared:
— BOYS SINGLES: East Webster’s Jacob Wofford and Eupora’s Richard Hernandez each turned in solid performances.
Wofford, the No. 3 seed, got an easy win in the opening round and then defeated Caleb Harrison of Taylorsville 6-1, 6-2 i the quarterfinals. In the semis, he lost 6-0, 6-0 to second-seeded Patrick Roth of Resurrection.
Roth had also eliminated Hernandez in the quarterfinals before falling to state champion Stedman Strickland of Madison St. Joseph. Strickland did not lose a single game in any of his four tournament matches.
Hernandez opened the tourney with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Corey Jones of Pisgah. He fell to Roth 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals.
— GIRLS SINGLES: Eupora’s Madison Hester and East Webster’s Melony Berryhill both reached the quarterfinals.
Hester opened the tournament with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Paige Oster. In the quarterfinals, the Meridian Community College signee lost 6-4, 6-0 to second-seeded Ashlyn Locke of Loyd Star.
Berryhill won 6-2, 6-0 over Meridith Morris of Baldwyn in the opening round. She fell to Rachel VanHorn of Winona 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and VanHorn went on to win the state title.
— GIRLS DOUBLES: The East Webster duo of JonHayden Hancock and Mary Mae Turner opened the tournament with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Shelby Doiron and Caleigh Hankins of Madison St. Joseph.
In the quarterfinals, Hancock and Turner fell 6-0, 6-0 to the Sacred Heart duo and fourth-seeded Bella Posey and Anna Taylor.
Eupora’s Lillie Burton and Wesleigh Cummings fell 6-3, 6-3 in opening-round action to Courtney Buffington and Madison Crapps of Pisgah.
— MIXED DOUBLES: East Webster’s duo of Charlie Brand and Claire Ferguson had a stellar run through the tournament, as the unseeded pair finished as state runners-up.
Brand and Ferguson opened the tourney with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Rachel Gray and Jason May of French Camp Academy. In the quarterfinals, they captured a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 3 seeded Edward Boland and Lillie Boland of Resurrection Catholic.
In the semifinals, Brand and Ferguson won 6-2, 7-6 over Hannah Hopson and Jack Posey of Sacred Heart; but they lost 7-5, 6-0 in the championship to Tupelo Christian’s Mary Grace Gaines and Hank Leathers.
Eupora’s Jaime Hernandez and Kaelyn Mitchell dropped a first-round, mixed doubles match to Hopson and Posey of Sacred Heart.