Lincoln County schools send 16 players to state tennis tournament

Published 4:27 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Enterprise, West Lincoln, Bogue Chitto and Loyd Star all had players punch a ticket to the individual 2A MHSAA State Tennis Tournament to be held in Vicksburg on April 24. The schools played their district tournament at the Brookhaven Country Club Friday. 

Bogue Chitto’s Kyndra Quinn and Autumn Ramshur advanced to the state tournament and won a district championship in girls doubles. West Lincoln’s Alexis Johnson and Ann Carter Waltman also advanced to the state tournament in girls doubles. 

Boys doubles district champions were West Lincoln’s Kam Clark and Tristin Rollins who will play in the state tournament. Bouge Chitto’s Andrew Merrell and Gage Smith also punched their ticket to Vicksburg. 

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Enterprise’s Kolby Sagely won a district championship in boys singles by defeating Bogue Chitto’s Cameron Williams. Williams and Sagely are both headed to the state tournament in Vicksburg. 

Loyd Star’s Knox Leggett and Addy Locke punched their ticket to the state tournament in mixed doubles by winning the district championship. Enterprise’s Hunter Givens and Alayna Barnett punched their ticket to state in mixed doubles. 

Marlee Johnson of Enterprise advanced to the state tournament in Vicksburg in girls singles. She lost to West Lincoln’s Chloe Sterling who was one of the youngest players to punch a ticket to the state tournament. 

“It feels great and really tiring. This is my first year playing singles. She (Loyd Star’s Jenna Smith) played a great match,” Sterling said. “I’m happy to play and being in ninth grade I feel happy to go to state. I hope everyone who advances plays well.” 

It is her second season to advance to the state tournament at the end of the year. She went last year as a doubles player. A freshman, she is headed back to the big stage after making an adjustment to playing singles. 

She said singles players are responsible for everything they do and have to hold themselves accountable to play better. Sterling had a few service errors in the first match of the day and had to encourage herself to do better and get past it. 

Her tennis career at West Lincoln began in seventh grade. She decided to play tennis after watching it her whole life. It is a game she has ultimately fallen in love with. 

One thing you might notice watching Sterling is her back hand has a back spin to it. A shot against Smith bounced backwards to where the player could not return the shot. Sterling has also worked on her slice to where it is really hard for opponents to return. 

“I am still working and trying to get better for the future. I just love playing the sport and playing with people I love,” Sterling said. “I’m dreaming of playing at Co-Lin and maybe the University of Alabama. They have a great tennis program and I think it will make me better.” 

District tournaments add pressure to matches especially in singles. She said the schools had played equal but it is fun to play and encourage people. 

Due to the Lincoln County schools being in the same district, the tennis players know each other pretty well. Sterling said it can make tennis matches a challenge. 

“You know their weaknesses and strengths and they know yours,” Sterling said. “You have to play to the best of your ability. You have to talk and just have to have excitement.”