For the second straight year the Riverside Rebel Tennis Team advanced to the Class AA State Tournament. Riverside's boys claimed the 4AA District Championship and will send the doubles team of Dustin Kelems and Lee Blake, along with Von McDaniel in singles to compete for state titles starting Monday at Searcy.
The Lady Rebel netters didn't fare as well in the district as a team, but did qualify the doubles' team of Chelsea Couch and Casey Peaster for the state tournament.
Kelems and Blake whipped Weiner's team of Kyle Lawrence and Steve Wilson 6-0, 6-1, in the District Semifinals. Then Kelems and Blake rallied from a set down to pull out a thrilling 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory in the Championship match.
Couch and Peaster won their first two matches of the district meet before falling in the championship round.
Couch and Peaster blitzed the Weiner team of Monica Scott and Angie Tubbs in straight sets 6-0, 6-1. Then the two Lady Rebs claimed another straight set win over Walnut Ridges' Amy and Laura Freeman 6-2, 6-2.
The Championship match was close all the way but the Walnut Ridge duo of Shelly Wilcoxon and Kenna McEntire proved too strong as they held on for a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Riverside's Couch and Peaster.
In singles action, Riverside's Von McDaniel beat Ridgefield Christians' Matt Reeves 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to advance to the championship match. Andrew Watson of Walnut Ridge was too much for McDaniel winning straight sets 6-1, 6-0.
"We are excited about going to the state tournament," Rebel Head Coach Terry Conner said.
As of press time, the Rebels weren't sure who their opponents will be.
"Depending on the draw, we are looking at our doubles' team at having a good chance to get to the semi-finals. Dustin and Lee are District Champs, and have a year's state experience," Conner added.
Blake's strength seems to be his strong serve, while Kelems is very good around the net.
Couch and Peaster are both very athletic and can run all over the court to chase down shots. They will use that athleticism and last year's experience in state play to draw off of.
"We like their chances, especially knowing they made it to the second round of state last year," Conner said.
"I am real excited about playing in the state tournament for the first time," Junior Von McDaniel said.
Coach Conner was also excited about having his junior representing the Rebels in the state singles.
"We're very proud of all our team and hope to do well in the state this year," Conner concluded.
The Tournament begins Monday, May 5 and concludes Tuesday with the state semi-finals and finals in both singles and doubles.