Town Crier Sports Staff
Riverside's tennis team has finished as Class AA State runner-up the past two seasons. Head Coach Terry Conner believes this may just be the year the Rebels come away with their first state title.
The Rebels got off to a great start, knocking off defending state champion Crowley's Ridge Academy, blasting the Falcons 11-0 in boys play last Monday afternoon in Jonesboro.
"I think we have a real good chance to win state this season," said Conner. "We have five of our top six players back from last season, and we have plenty of depth up and down our lineup."
The Rebels are led by 6'8" senior Glen Graham, who teamed with departed Rebel Jordan Adcock to finish second in doubles action in last year's state tournament. Graham's new partner is senior Casey Hook. Graham and Hook made their new partnership a successful one, beating the Falcon pair of Jake Wallis and Kade Dickerson, 6-2.
The Rebels fed off Graham and Hook's success, sweeping the next three doubles matches. Seniors Cody Richardson and Garrett Weaver easily got by Jeremy Smith and Kyle Rowe, 6-1, at number two doubles. Bryan Poe and Chase Nichols teamed at number three doubles and came away with a 7-6 (7-1) victory over the Falcon duo of Barrett Smith and David Ramsey. Hook and Graham teamed up again and beat the team of Jake Wallis and Jonathan Huggins, 6-0, to complete the sweep in doubles action.
The Rebels won all seven matches in singles action, with Casey Hook defeating Jonathan Huggins, 6-4, at the number one position. Glen Graham defeated Kade Dickerson 6-0 at number two singles while Cody Richardson came away with a 6-2 win over Jake Wallis at the number three spot.
Garrett Weaver rolled past Kade Dickerson, 6-3, at number four singles, while junior Nick Bagley edged Kyle Rowe, 7-5, at number five. Junior Cameron Casey bested Barrett Smith, 6-1, at number six singles and sophomore Daniel McCormick completed the whitewash with a 6-2 victory over David Ramsey.
"We really played well against a very good team," said Conner. "We have five kids that could play the number one position in singles right now. We also have the luxury of being able to mix and match our doubles teams when we want to. The kids have worked really hard over the summer and we are excited about the season."
The Lady Rebels also came away with a victory, beating the Lady Falcons, 5-2. Riverside took three of four singles matches and two of three in doubles play.
Riverside picked up wins at the number two, three and four positions, setting the stage for the win. Junior Katey Campbell downed Hannah Stidman, 6-2, at the number two slot while freshman Taylor Boness came away with a 6-4 win over Lauren Hill at the number three spot. Junior Christy Ward defeated Diedra Fears 6-0 at number four singles. CRA picked up their only win when Melissa Sellers outlasted junior Morgan Emery, 6-4.
Doubles action saw the number one Lady Rebel duo of Morgan Emery and Katey Campbell defeat Hannah Stidman and Lauren Hill, 6-2. Freshman Kyley Campbell and junior Kailey Holt teamed at number two doubles to knock off Melissa Sellers and Deidra Fears, 6-3. CRA avoided a sweep in doubles play when Hannah Stidman and Lauren Hill shut out the freshman duo of Sarah Douglas and Beth Anne Snyder, 6-0.
The Rebel netters returned to action after the Labor Day Holiday break with a 3:30 match Tuesday against Walnut Ridge at Lake City. Riverside will also play a 3:30 match Thursday against arch-rival East Poinsett County at Lake City.