Wednesday, October 09, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot sends six to state tournament

Leader sports editor

The Panther tennis team qualified every girls player and the top boys’ doubles team for the second day of the 7A-Central Conference tournament on Monday at Burns Park, and followed that performance with all but two of those players qualifying for state on Tuesday.

Cabot didn’t produce any conference championships, but the six players that qualified for state is the most from Cabot in coach Mary Nash’s seven years as an assistant and head coach.

“This team has been really consistent and for this many to qualify for state is really great for us,” said Nash.

Charl Young and Sarah Antille qualified for the girls singles state tournament. Young finished fourth and Antille fifth. The top six finishers in each division move on to the state tournament in Rogers next week.

Young started the tournament as the four seed and defeated North Little Rock’s Morgan Seaton 6-0, 6-0. She moved on to face Fort Smith Northside’s Carolina Coleman, who had beaten Little Rock Central’s Mysti Kirkpatrick in the first round. Young won the opening set 6-4, then lost 5-7. In the deciding third set, Young took control, breaking Coleman’s serve twice en route to a 6-1 win in the set and a 2-1 victory in the match.

Young met top seeded Lindsey Pearce of Fort Smith Southside in the semifinals on Tuesday morning. Pearce had not dropped a single game up to that point, and continued that streak against Young, winning 6-0, 6-0.

“Her dad is a pro in Fort Smith and she spends a lot of time on the court,” Nash said of Pearce. “She’s the most powerful girl out here.”

Young’s loss dropped her to the third-place game on Tuesday afternoon. There she met second-seeded Becky Sherman of Little Rock Central. Sherman was upset in the semifinals by third-seeded Sarah Buckman of Mount St. Mary’s. Sherman, a sophomore, beat Young for the second time this year 6-0, 6-3.

Sherman also knocked Antille into the loser’s bracket in the second round. Antille beat Southside’s Lauren Willis 6-0, 6-1 to start the tournament before running into the super sophomore. Needing a win to qualify for state, Antille beat Alex Hug of Northside 6-2, 6-2 to move into the fifth-place game. There she defeated Conway’s Faith Guidry in three sets, gaining momentum as the match played out. She won by scores of 3-6, 6-4 and 6-1.

Kristen Sumler and Molly Wood won their first two matches on Monday to advance to the semifinals. The senior duo beat Meagan Langley and Brooke Humbert of Conway 6-0, 6-1 in the first round. They lost the first set of the second round to Little Rock Central’s Anikita and Nikita Das, but came back to win the next two in exciting fashion. Scores in the match were 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Things didn’t go as well on Tuesday. Sumler and Wood opened play with a 7-6, 6-1 loss to Southside’s Kayley Edwards and Gracie Harris. In the third-place game, the Cabot seniors dropped one service game in each of the first two sets to lose 6-3, 6-4 to earn a four seed in the state tournament.

The boys duo of Jacob Dills and Turner Bankston opened play with a 7-5, 6-2 win over the Catholic team of Joseph Wren and Kyle Parham. They lost a close second-round match 6-3, 7-6 to Northside’s Will Hartle and Morris Rajsumbath. Dills and Bankston were on the brink of elimination and their seasons end when they dropped the first set 2-6 to Central’s Le’Derrion Ledbetter and Garrett Bethel. But the Panthers battled back to eek out wins of 6-4 and 7-5 in the next two games to qualify for state.

They found themselves in a tough match in the fifth-place game as well against Northside’s Robbie Kiss and Stuart Mose. The Bears won by scores of 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

The Cabot girls doubles team of juniors Tori and Lexi Weeks won their first match 7-6, 6-2 over Claire Stovall and Cara Shipley of Southside, but lost their next two and failed to make it to state.

“They’re juniors so they’ve got another year to get in,” Nash said of the Weeks sisters. “It’s really good that our senior team got in though. I’m very proud of how they’ve improved since joining the team.”