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FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2007
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Decatur settles for 2nd at tennis sectionals
Muscle Shoals edges Lady Raiders in tennis as both teams advance

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com · 340-2461

MUSCLE SHOALS — Decatur High entered Thursday’s play in the Class 5A, Section 6 girls tennis tournament needing to win three singles finals to take the championship.

The Lady Red Raiders won two.

Muscle Shoals won the remaining four and edged out Decatur for the sectional title. Even so, the top two teams advance to the state tournament, which means both squads will travel to Mobile next week to play for the 5A championship.

Losing out to Muscle Shoals made it a bittersweet day for the Lady Raiders, who still had plenty to celebrate. Not only did they have a state tournament berth in hand, two of the team’s seniors won singles championships.

Angee Stevens won the No. 1 singles title, beating Muscle Shoals’ Rebecca Hall 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, and Sarah Suggs took the No. 5 singles division over Muscle Shoals’ Rebecca Brocato 6-3, 6-4.

“I’m really excited that the team as a whole is going to the state tournament,” Stevens said. “We wanted to win (sectionals), but at least we’re going to state.”

The sectional began Wednesday and was scheduled to finish in one day, but rain delays forced organizers to push the six singles finals to Thursday.

Doubles were completed Wednesday with Decatur winning two and Muscle Shoals one.

Decatur’s Emily Suggs and Mary Virginia Sherrill won the No. 2 doubles title, and Burgoyne Fite and Sarah Suggs won at No. 3.

On Thursday, it was Stevens and Sarah Suggs who provided the bright spot for the Lady Red Raiders.

Muscle Shoals already had clinched the team championship before either finished her match.

Sarah Suggs closed out her win as Lady Trojans’ players celebrated next to her court. When Suggs clinched the win, Muscle Shoals’ celebration spilled out onto their court, with Suggs’ opponent joining in.

Suggs left the court without saying anything. She had her celebration later as her teammates cheered her loudly as the senior received her first-place medals for both singles and doubles.

“I’m extremely excited,” Suggs said.

“We’re going to state. Burgoyne and I went undefeated this year in doubles, and that’s really special. I wish I was coming back next year to play with her again.

“Winning singles, I’m excited about that.”

Stevens received a loud cheer from her teammates, too, when she received her medal.

She had to rally from a deficit to win her singles title, which marked only the second time since 1993 that a Decatur High girls player had won No. 1 singles at sectionals.

Leslie Hahn won No. 1 singles in 2003.

When rain postponed play Wednesday night, Stevens trailed 0-3 and 30-40. She lost the first point Thursday to fall behind 0-4, but poured it on from there as she took advantage of windy conditions, which benefited her much more than Hall, who likes to lob the ball.

“I thought I might be able to play better in the wind,” she said.

Stevens didn’t slow down until after she had gained a 4-1 lead in the final set. That’s when a Muscle Shoals fan yelled out to Hall that the Lady Trojans already had clinched the team title.

“I think that planted a seed,” Stevens said. “That might be why I lost a couple of games toward the end.”

This gives Stevens her third sectional championship in singles. As an eighth-grader, she won at No. 5, and as a freshman, she won at No. 2.

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