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MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007
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Decatur girls aiming to beat rival and more at state tennis

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com 340-2461

After losing a sectional championship by a single point Thursday evening, Decatur High's girls tennis players didn't mope or cry.

Instead, a curiously upbeat squad left the Muscle Shoals High School Tennis Complex smiling and talking about what's next.

After all, why cry about the past when the future still looks bright? The top two teams from each sectional advance to the Class 5A state tournament in Mobile on Monday and Tuesday, which means that Section 6 runner-up Decatur will attend with a clean slate just the same as Section 6 champion Muscle Shoals.

"We can go down there and finish higher than Muscle Shoals," said senior Angee Stevens, who plays No. 1 singles and has helped Decatur make the state tournament four times in the last five years.

Decatur has experience doing this.

In 2005 when the Lady Red Raiders competed in 6A, they narrowly finished second in the sectional to Grissom. Less than a week later, Decatur tied for sixth at the state tournament, while Grissom placed 11th.

"I'm hoping it happens again," said senior Sarah Suggs, a sectional champion at No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles.

First-year Decatur girls tennis coach Morgan Coulter cautions that her team has more on its mind than placing ahead of rival Muscle Shoals.

"We're going down there with the intention of winning every match that we can," Coulter said.

"It would be great to finish ahead of Muscle Shoals, but we want to finish as high as we can. We're going down there to try and win."

Decatur did not make the state tournament last year after a three-year run of advancing. Competing in 6A, the Lady Red Raiders finished fourth in 2003, 10th in 2004 and sixth in 2005.

Three players who competed in the 2005 tournament remain — Stevens, Suggs and Sarah Hodges. All three are seniors. Stevens made the quarterfinals at No. 1 singles, while Suggs did the same at No. 5 and Hodges at No. 6. Suggs and Hodges made the semifinals at No. 3 doubles.

Now, Stevens still plays No. 1 in the singles lineup, while Hodges is No. 2. Mary Virginia Sherrill plays No. 3, followed by Emily Suggs (No. 4), Sarah Suggs (No. 5) and Burgoyne Fite (No. 6).

Stevens and Hodges play No. 1 doubles. Sherrill and Emily Suggs are at No. 2 doubles, and Sarah Suggs and Fite are at No. 3.

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