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Decatur High's Mary Virginia Sherrill advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 doubles with teammate Emily Suggs at the Class 5A state tournament in Mobile on Monday.
Photo by Dennis Victory
Decatur High's Mary Virginia Sherrill advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 doubles with teammate Emily Suggs at the Class 5A state tournament in Mobile on Monday.

Hodges in state tennis semis
Two Decatur girls doubles
teams advance in Mobile

By Dennis Victory
sports@decaturdaily.com

MOBILE — Four times this season, Decatur High girls No. 2 singles player Sarah Hodges had played Muscle Shoals' Audrey Bedford this year. Hodges won the first two, but the last two weren't pretty for the Decatur senior.

The last two losses motivated Hodges for Monday's match against Bedford at the Class 5A tennis state tournament at the Mobile Tennis Center. She breezed by Bedford 6-1, 6-1 and advanced to Tuesday's semifinal round with the victory. Her performance helped the Lady Red Raiders to seventh place after the first day of the tournament.

"I played my game and got it in my head that I was going to win," said Hodges, who also played in the 6A state tournament as a sophomore. "I just pretty much kept the ball in play and didn't get frustrated."

Hodges was the only Decatur girl to advance in singles, and she teamed with senior Angee Stevens to win a pair of No. 1 doubles matches. The duo will face a tough St. Paul's team Ebie Wilson and Mary Angela Martin in Tuesday's semifinals.

Also, advancing to Tuesday's semifinals was Decatur's No. 2 doubles team of Mary Virginia Sherrill and Emily Suggs. They'll face Jane Stephens and Nene Stephens of St. Paul's.

St. Paul's leads a tight girls competition with 30 points, followed by Arab's 27, UMS-Wright's 27, Walker's 27 and Briarwood's 26. Muscle Shoals is sixth with 24 points, and Decatur ended the day in seventh place with 20 points.

In other girls action, Decatur No. 1 singles Stevens fell to UMS-Wright 7-5, 6-3 in the first round, while No. 3 Sherrill downed Carroll-Ozark 6-1, 6-0, but lost to Briarwood 6-4, 6-3. No. 4 Emily Suggs lost 6-0, 6-0 to St. Paul's, while No. 5 Sarah Suggs drew a bye before losing to Walker 6-0, 6-0. No. 6 Burgoyne Fite downed Sylacauga 6-4, 6-3, but lost to Walker 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

The No. 3 doubles team of Sarah Suggs and Fite fell to UMS-Wright 6-2, 6-3 after a first-round bye.

Class 5A boys

In the boys competition, defending champion Walker heads a four-way battle for the boys title.

The Vikings lead with 40 points to UMS-Wright's 36, St. Paul's 33 and Russellville's 30.

Hartselle accumulated 10 points when No. 5 singles John Landers won two matches to advance, and the No. 1 doubles team of Anthony Penick and Alex Brown also won two matches to advance to the semifinal round. The Tigers sit in ninth place.

Landers easily won his first-round match, downing Pleasant Grove's Mat Smith 6-1, 6-1 then split the first two sets with Briarwood's Phillip Taylor before finishing strong with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win.

"I got down early in the second set and decided to save it for the third set," Landers said. "We were even 3-3 and I made a push, and ended up winning it."

Landers will face Russellville's Jacob Hill on Tuesday.

Penick and Brown downed Benjamin Russell 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the first round then beat Russellville 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to advance. They'll face the Muscle Shoals duo of Aaron Lockhart and Karlin Sheffey on Tuesday.

No. 1 singles player Penick fell 6-3, 6-2 in the first round to St. Paul's, while No. 2 Brown drew a bye before falling 6-0, 6-0 to UMS-Wright. No. 3 Scott Dukes lost 6-1, 6-1 to Muscle Shoals in the first round, and No. 4 Jeremy Roper drew a bye before falling to St. Paul's 6-0, 6-3. No. 6 Chris Connor also had a first-round bye then lost to Walker 6-1, 6-3.

The Hartselle No. 2 doubles team of Roper-Connor lost 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Pleasant Grove in the second round after a first-round bye, and the No. 3 doubles team Landers and A.J. McNutt fell 6-0, 6-4 to St. Paul's in the first round.

Hartselle No. 1 singles player Candice Light also earned a spot in the state tournament with her section victory. Light downed Sylacauga 6-1, 6-2, but fell 6-1, 6-1 to Walker in the second round.

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