One phrase came to mind at the Starkville High School tennis courts Wednesday afternoon, "Big deal."
The Yellowjackets claimed the Class 5A, Region 3, District 4 title with a 7-0 victory over Neshoba Central.
"It is really a big deal especially as young as our team is," SHS senior Lewis Maynard said. "We have a lot of sophomores and juniors that are top players. They are really pushing our team forward. We are going to move on to state and hopefully win that."
Coach Rob Fyke can't remember when a SHS squad has won the district title in tennis.
"We can't remember a time in history that we have won it," Fyke said. "I'm sure it's happened. We have been in the district with Tupelo over the last number of years and they have had a dominant team. This was a big win for Starkville."
It may be senior Brian Xu's second year competing for the Jackets, but he understands how important this is.
"We haven't done it in a very long time so obviously it's a pretty big thing," Xu said.
Maynard took the boys' single match 6-2, 6-3 over Colt Killen.
"There is a little pressure behind it, but if I know I can do my part, that it pushes the team forward so they can do their part too," Maynard said of being the first to compete in every match. "By no means is this a one person sport. It's a team sport. I know if I lose, I know my team can pick up the slack and continue on to victory."
Fyke is glad to have a leader in Maynard. He has seen the leader accept every challenge with a good attitude.
"Lewis has been a great leader this year," Fyke said. "He has taken on any challenge that we have presented to him with no complaints and no fear. (He sets) a great example on the court for all the younger players."
Xu and Ethan Musser beat Zack Morrow and Devin Skinner 6-1, 6-1 in boys' doubles action.
"Last year I was just running around trying to get the ball back over," Xu said. "This year I have gotten more use to it and got the hang of it. I would say I have gotten comfortable out there."
Fyke has seen Xu progress nicely over the past two years.
"Brian's progression has been amazing," Fyke said. "He has progressed quicker than any tennis player that I have coached in my seven years of coaching in various places. I didn't expect him to be playing at this level in such a short amount of time."
Aaron Remotigae and Jack Bryan took the other boys' doubles match 6-2, 6-2 over Sam Lovorn and Zack McGee.
On the girls' side, Emily Turner beat Rebekah Watson 6-0, 6-0 in singles action.
In girls' doubles play, Hannah Laird and Dasha Bonderonko beat Kate Timmons and Cecilly Price 6-1, 6-1. Ashley Albritton and Christine Mazzola beat Lanie Stokes and Shelby Anthony 6-0, 6-0.
In mixed doubles action, Richard Hill and Mikala Taylor beat Alex Michelletti and Tia Reynolds 6-3, 6-2.
"We played good," Fyke said. "We have been talking to them and working on things in practice."
SHS improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in district play.
The Jackets are back in action today when they travel to Tupelo at 4 p.m. They will return home on Tuesday when they play Pontotoc at 4 p.m.