The Riverside Rebel tennis team began defense of their district title on Aug. 25 as they opened the 2003 season with a 5-2 victory over Walnut Ridge, while the girl netters battled the Lady Bobcats to a 2-2 draw.
The Rebels #1 boys' player, Senior Lee Blake, defeated defending district singles champion Andrew Watson of Walnut Ridge, 6-2, to get the Rebels off to a fast start. Senior Von McDaniel, playing in the #2 position, edged Jonathan Wichman 7-6 to continue the Rebel momentum. After Walnut Ridge's Kent defeated the Rebels' Kabe Taylor 6-3 to pull the match to within 2 to 1, newcomer Michael Dewitt gave the Rebs a big boost by blasting Walnut Ridge's Baker 6-love.
The two teams split the doubles matches with Walnut Ridge winning the #1 doubles match 7-5, as Watson and Kent defeated Blake and McDaniel. The Rebels rebounded in the second match as another Rebel newcomer, Zac Reynolds, teamed with Taylor to defeat the Bobcats Stowers and Baker 6-0.
The Lady Rebel netters took two of three singles matches over Walnut Ridge as Heather Webb defeated Holly Rutledge 6-3, and Miranda Boyd beat Shelly Wilcoxson by the same score. The Bobcats, however, rallied to tie the match as Kenna McEntire defeated Hailey Faulkner 6-4, and in the only doubles match, the Bobcat Team of Rutledge and McEntire whipped Webb and Faulkner 6-0.
The Rebels then traveled to Jonesboro to face Ridgefield Christian and posted an easy 5-2 win in the boys' match, while the girls coasted to a 5-1 victory.
It was doubles action that paved the way for the boys' victory as the Rebels swept all three matches over Ridgefield Christian. In #1 doubles, Blake and McDaniel, shut out Daniel Fields and Nolan Gilmore 6-0, while senior Josh Ball teamed with Reynolds to whip Trenton Hoggard and Jonathan Graves, 6-0. In the third doubles match, two more Rebel newcomers, Matt Owens and Alex Smith, defeated Bryan and Blake Emerson 6-3.
The two teams split singles action with the Rebels' Lee Blake and Kabe Taylor both posting 6-1 victories. Blake defeated Elijah Lawrence while Taylor upended Daniel, Morgan. Ridgefield Christian bounded back to take the other two singles matches as Matthew Reeves defeated Blake Barnes 6-1 and Aaron Ricca Downed Michael Dewitt 6-4.
The Riverside Ladies' team had little trouble disposing of their opponents as their only loss came at #1 singles when defending district singles champion Anna Ledbetter beat Chelsea Couch 6-0. The rest of the day belonged to Riverside as the Lady Rebels swept the remaining three singles matches and both doubles matches. Heather Webb beat Natalie Reeves 6-0, Miranda Boyd defeated Mallory Woodham 6-0, and Hailey Faulkner edged Joy Hutchison 7-5. Couch and Webb blasted Brittany and Anna Williams 6-0 in #1 doubles, while Boyd and Faulkner defeated the team of Kristen Thrasher and Chris Wellman 6-3.
Head coach Terry Conner has been very pleased with the play of the Rebels so far
"I am especially excited about our new players. On the boys' side, Zac Reynolds is really looking good and Michael Dewitt is beginning to come on. Mat Owens and Alex Smith are coming along in doubles, and they bring speed and athleticism to the court.
"We are very glad to have Heather Webb back on the girls' team after skipping a year. She has not missed a beat. She and Chelsea Couch have formed a very strong team in doubles' play," added Coach Conner.
The Rebels traveled to Nettleton on Sept. 8 and will play in Trumann on Sept. 11.