Daily photo by Emily Saunders|
Austin's Meleana McCutcheon returns a shot during doubles action in the Class 6A sectionals at the Point Mallard tennis complex Tuesday. McCutcheon will play her singles final Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Youngsters on center court
Eighth-grader, freshman to battle in sectional finals
By Mark Edwards
email@example.com · 340-2461
Eight girls high school tennis teams played at Point Mallard for nearly 12 hours Tuesday, but the most intriguing match of Class 6A, Section 8 won't happen until Wednesday.
At 4 p.m. in the No. 1 singles final, Austin High eighth-grader Meleana McCutcheon will defend her sectional championship against Florence freshman Hannah Creamer.
It's intriguing mostly for this reason — Creamer handed McCutcheon her only loss this season.
McCutcheon went unbeaten last year until the 6A state quarterfinals. Then in the opening match of the year, she fell to Creamer. McCutcheon hasn't lost since, including a rematch with Creamer, winning 6-2, 6-3.
"It's a good thing that we've played before, and I already know who I'm
hitting with," McCutcheon said after sweeping two matches Tuesday. "But she hits a lot of combinations. She changes things up."
Teams played through the semifinals in all six singles and three doubles divisions Tuesday.
All nine finals will be Wednesday, and in all but two, Florence will face Huntsville.
Florence players made the finals in all nine divisions and lead the team standings with 42 points, which includes two points for every win in singles and three for each doubles win. Huntsville (37 points) made the finals in five of six singles divisions and two of the three in doubles.
Besides McCutcheon, the only ones who break the Florence/Huntsville stranglehold were Bob Jones' No. 1 doubles tandem of Casey Cochran and Amanda Sippel, who will face Florence's Creamer and Amy Cook for the championship.
The top two teams advance to the state tournament, and Florence and Huntsville have locked up those berths. Bob Jones has 19 points and has clinched third place, while Grissom (17) is set in fourth, Austin (11) in fifth and Sparkman, Hazel Green and Buckhorn tied in sixth place with no points.
The day began with a little rain and cloudy skies, and McCutcheon's game began a little slowly, too.
McCutcheon lost the opening game of her first-round match to Sparkman's Kone Wisdom, but the Austin ace rolled from there.
McCutcheon finished off Wisdom 6-1, 6-0 and followed with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Grissom's Jessica Chang in the semifinals.
McCutcheon indicated that in both cases, she had to outlast her opponent. "Sparkman was a good match," McCutcheon said. "She got the ball back and got the ball back and got the ball back.
"Playing Grissom, she just wouldn't give up. She just kept going and going. She played awesome."
Austin managed to make the semifinals at Nos. 5 and 6 singles and No. 2 doubles.
At No. 5 singles, the Lady Black Bears' Jena Ward beat Buckhorn's Lateshia Oliver 6-0, 6-1 before falling to Huntsville's Meghan Wohleber in the next match.
Rachel King beat Hazel Green's Julianna Bone 6-1, 6-0 in the opening round at No. 6 singles but fell to Florence's Megan Ticker in the semifinals. Katrina Wujtewicz and Ward beat Buckhorn's Oliver and Kristina Wood 10-0 in the No. 2 doubles opening round before losing.
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