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Hickman leads BA to state title

RIDGELAND – Will Hickman and his Brookhaven Academy teammates made it look easy. Hickman’s romp through No. 1 boys singles directed the Cougars to the MAIS Class AA State Tennis Championship  Wednesday at the Ridgeland Tennis Center.

     It was the eighth consecutive state championship for the Cougars. Coach David Misner’s team swept through the field like a rampaging wildfire in dry timber. They lost only two sets in winning every match.

     Hickman was followed by teammates Grant Melancon in No. 2 boys singles, Brennan Miller and Jake Shelby in No. 1 boys doubles and Brock Smith and Graham Watson in No. 2 boys doubles.

     “From day one, when he first picked up a tennis racquet, Will knew what it took to defend his court,” said Misner. “He defends his court with tenacity. He’s very competitive.”

     Misner reviewed his team’s climb to the summit.

     “Will in No. 1 singles and Brennan and Jake in No. 2 doubles utterly dominated their event,” said Misner. “Grant at No. 2 singles and Brock and Graham in No. 2 doubles, had to overcome some difficulties in their events.”

     It was a rebuilding campaign for the BA boys and girls but they worked hard and steadily improved.

     “We had a lot of question marks going into the season because we had lost so many players,” Misner continued., “Those questions became exclamation marks.”

     BA amassed 8 points to easily outdistance runner-up Oak Hill with 2.5 points. Manchester and Winston each scored 1 point and Lamar School managed .5.

     “Every one of our guys won and so did our girls,” said Hickman. “I’m excited about it. Grant Melancon had a really good match.”

     Hickman, an 18-year-old junior, lost the season opening match to Bryce Spong of Northwest Rankin, 7-5, 7-6. He defeated opponents from Class AAA powers Jackson Academy and Jackson Prep this season.

     “We take pride in practice,” said Hickman. “It’s  our goal to bring back a championship.”

     He said a lot of players will stay after practice and play more competition. Misner received his praise.

     “Coach Misner is a great coach,” said Hickman. “He gets us to play as a team.”

     He recalled the No. 2 doubles match that saw Smith and Watson losing 1-6 in the first set.

“Coach Misner went out there and talked to them. He told them they were better than that and they could win.”

     Smith-Watson responded and won the next two sets, 7-6, 6-2.

     Hickman won the No. 2 state singles title in sixth grade. He’s won No. 1 singles since seventh grade.

     Melancon is a sophomore so the team should be a factor in next year’s state playoffs.

     Hickman is ranked No. 2 in Mississippi boys 18s. He plans to play football and basketball his senior year after concentrating strictly on tennis as a junior.

     In the AA girls bracket, BA’s Terah Winborne and Madison Warren captured No. 1 girls doubles, giving the Lady Cougars 2 team points. Manchester claimed the girls title with 4 points and Lamar netted 3.5. Oak Hill scored 3 points.

     Misner said, “Madison and Terah were the class of the field in No. 1 girls doubles.”