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The Starkville High School tennis squad had 12 people compete for a spot at state.
All 12 did just that Thursday at the SHS tennis courts in the individual district tournament. The Yellowjackets claimed the No. 1 spot in the district a week ago and play the first round of the playoffs next week.
"We had talked in practice over the past week that the best case scenario was getting everybody entered into the district tournament qualified for state," SHS head coach Rob Fyke said. "That was the best we could have possibly done. We reached that goal."
In mixed doubles, freshman Richard Hill and junior Mikala Taylor qualified for the number one spot with a 6-0, 6-1 win in the first match and a 6-2, 6-4 win in the final match.
"They really stepped it up," Fyke said of Hill and Taylor. "I thought they had the hardest road to the state tournament before the tournament started. Both of them played above and beyond where they have been playing in matches throughout the course of the year. I think they have a chance of doing well in the state tournament."
Taylor sees this as a big honor and is excited she will be competing at state.
"It is a really big honor," Taylor said. "This is my second year playing major varsity and this is the first year I have been able to qualify for state. I have the most incredible partner, Richard Hill. He is a freshman and he is a very good partner. This is just a great honor. I am very honored that my coach's gave me the opportunity."
Taylor and Hill have been working all year to get this spot. Although they did not lose a set, Taylor did not see the day as easy.
"It wasn't necessarily easy, we just worked hard," Taylor said. "We have been working so hard for this."
Jack Bryan and Nick Elder found themselves playing three matches to qualify. After they won 6-0, 6-0 and 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, they had to play in playback match.
"Their second match went into three sets," Fyke said. "They had a long second match and had to come back in 15 minutes and play a championship match. They played another close one and pulled it out. I'm very pleased with them."
They won the playback match 7-6(7-4), 6-3. They qualified for boys doubles No. 2.
On the girls' side, Ashley Albritton and Christine Mazzola had to play a playback match as well.
Albritton and Mazzola won 6-0, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-3 to qualify for the playback. They won that match 6-1, 6-2 and qualified for girls doubles No. 2.
"It's tough sometimes after winning two long matches and come back and play a full third match," Fyke said. "They handled it as good as you could ask for. That's what you get with two senior leaders."
Will Irving won 6-0, 6-0, but lost 6-3, 6-1 to Neshoba Central's Colt Killen in boys singles action. He qualified for the No. 2 position.
Brian Xu and Lewis Maynard will be No. 1 in boys doubles. They swept through the district with a 6-0, 6-0 win and 6-0, 6-3 victory.
Dash Bondarekno will be the No. 1 in girls singles. She won 6-0, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-2.
Emily Turner and Hannah Laird won 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0 6-0 to qualify for the No. 1 spot for girls doubles.
The state tournament will be May 7-8 at the Ridgeland Tennis Center.View more articles in: