Riverside's Daniel McCormick claimed the singles title at the 2A-3 District tennis tournament in Jonesboro, leading the Rebels to the team championship Wednesday at Allen Park.
McCormick, who did not drop a set the entire tournament, started the day by blanking Alex Long of Walnut Ridge, 6-0, 6-0, in the opening round. McCormick knocked off Adam Morgan, also of Ridgefield Christian in the semi-finals, with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
McCormick had played at number three and four singles the entire regular season, but was elevated to the number one spot to give Bryan Poe, who normally plays number one singles, the opportunity to concentrate on doubles competition. The strategy by Riverside Coach Terry Conner worked perfectly when Poe teamed with senior Cody O'Guinn to take second in doubles play, giving the Rebels enough points to claim the team championship.
"I am very happy to win the singles title," said McCormick. "It was very tough beating the number one seed, Adam Morgan, but once I got to the finals I felt really good. It's great to be going to the state tournament. I just hope to get a good seed and we'll see what happens from there."
Poe and O'Guinn won their first round match with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Sam Morris and Andrew Smith of Crowley's Ridge Academy. The Riverside duo fell behind in their semi-final match to Little Rock Lutheran's Lee Pelton and Keenen Avner, losing the first set 4-6, but the tandem rallied to win the next two sets, 6-4, 7-5, to advance to the championship.
Poe and O'Guinn battled the number one seeded Little Rock Lutheran team of Mark LeBlanc and Conner Barnes in the championship round, and came within one point of securing the first set. LeBlanc and Barnes staved off set point, and rallied to win the set 7-6 (9-7) in a grueling tiebreaker. The momentum of the first set victory catapulted the Lutheran duo as they rolled to a 6-0 second set win and the championship.
In other singles action, Riverside's Cameron Casey lost a 4-6, 6-3, 4-6 heartbreaker to Eubanks in the opening round.
Riverside's other doubles team of Chase Nichols and Josh Anderson fell just short of qualifying for the state tournament, dropping a tough 6-4, 5-7, 3-6 decision to Pelton and Avner in the consolation battle for third place. After winning the first set, Nichols and Anderson came within one point of winning the match, but watched Pelton and Avner fight back to claim the victory. Nichols and Anderson started the day with a 6-4, 6-2 win over the Walnut Ridge team of Jared Williams and Nick Pechillis. The Rebel pair lost a 2-6, 3-6 decision in the semi-finals to the eventual champions, LeBlanc and Barnes.
"Daniel did a great job in singles play," said Riverside Coach Terry Conner. "He had been playing three and four singles all year, so winning the championship was a great accomplishment. He has really been working hard and deserved the win. I thought everyone played well. I am very pleased to win the team title, considering what a young group we have."
Conner was named Coach of the Year and will take the Rebels to the state tournament which will begin Oct. 21 at Fairfield Bay. McCormick, Poe and O'Guinn will represent Riverside in the tournament.