It's a three-peat for the Rebels!
Riverside boys continued to dominate the state in Class 2A tennis, capturing their third consecutive state title Tuesday afternoon at Fort Smith.
The Rebels dominated both singles and doubles play, with Grant Mason bringing home the singles title while the Riverside duo of Gavin Stone and Jon Milligan won the doubles championship in an All-Rebel final.
Mason defeated Cade Cushing of Parkers Chapel 6-2, 6-2, in the singles final. The Riverside senior had to fight his way into the championship match with a come from behind three set semifinal victory over Winston Strawn of Conway Christian, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3. Strawn had the top seeded Mason on the ropes at match point in the second set, but Mason battled back and eventually sent the match to a third and deciding set.
"Grant did a great job battling back in his semifinal match," said Riverside Coach Terry Conner. "He was determined and wouldn't give in. The championship match was a lot easier for him. He really played great. I am very proud of him."
Top seeded Stone and Milligan won a straight set victory over teammates Luke Baker and Braden Overman, 6-1, 6-3, for the doubles championship. Both teams had little trouble in advancing to an all-Riverside final.
"The doubles went just exactly as we wanted them to go," said Conner. "We got both teams in the finals and our most experienced pair came out on top."
In girls play, the Riverside tandem of Abby Brickell and Hattie Milligan upended the number one seeded team of Mary Morgan Ellis and Macey Vaught of Conway Christian, 7-6, 6-4, in the semifinals. Brickell and Milligan faced off against the second seeds Allison Rogers and Bailey Norwood of Parkers Chapel in the championship match. Rogers and Norwood took the first set 6-4 before Brickell and Milligan fought back in the second set to win a 7-6 tiebreaker. Rogers and Norwood prevailed in the deciding set 6-0 to claim the title.
"Abby and Hattie really played well," said Conner. "They jumped out on the number one seeded team and never let up. That was a big win for them. In the championship, they fought back in the second set and won but they just ran out of gas in the third set. They are a very young team. Abby is a freshman and Hattie is a sophomore, so they have a lot of tennis ahead of them."
Zach Poe won his first round match in singles play for the Rebels with a straight set 6-2, 6-3 win over Caleb Belin of Hampton. Poe dropped his quarterfinal match to Nick Grice of Western Grove, 6-2, 6-4. Grice went on to finish third in the tournament.
McKenna Beach and Bailey Fisher won their first round doubles match for Riverside, defeating the Conway Christian tandem of Katherine Huff and Allison Oliver, 6-0. 6-4. Beach and Fisher dropped their quarterfinal match to eventual champions Rogers and Norwood, 6-3, 6-2.
"Everything came together for us this week," Conner said. "All the kids worked hard. We are very proud of them. This is three straight state titles for our boys, which matches what our girls did a couple of years ago. We have established a good tennis program and the rest of the state realizes that now. Our name is out there as one of the best tennis programs in the state of Arkansas."