With each win they compiled, the pressure grew for Southside’s girls doubles team of Jordan Cormier and Annie Nelligan.
They brought a perfect record into this week’s 6A-Central conference tournament in Little Rock and knew they needed to continue their momentum.
While it wasn’t easy at times, Cormier and Nelligan were able to deliver a conference title for the Mavs.
Cormier, a senior, and Nelligan, a junior, kept their undefeated record alive by holding off Cabot’s team of Emily Belin and Maggie Gibson, 7-6, 6-4, to win the 6A-Central championship.
“They came in as the top seed, and so the pressure was all on them and I thought they handled it well,” Southside coach Braden Eads said.
Cormier, who qualified for state last season in singles, and Nelligan also get the conference’s top seed for the 6A State Tournament, which begins Monday at Springdale Har-Ber High School.
The duo easily won their opening match at conference, 6-0, 6-0, then got a 7-6, 6-3 decision to advance to the semifinals.
Against a team from Mount St. Mary, Cormier and Nelligan survived a tough three-set semifinal match, winning 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 to make it into the finals.
“They had a battle in the semifinals and were down 5-2 in the third set and fought back to win,” Eads said. “They went on to the finals and had a back-and-forth match and closed it out to become the doubles conference champions.”
Northside junior girls singles player Kate Files was vying for her third straight conference championship. But Files was defeated in the 6A-Central girls singles final by Mount St. Mary’s Presley Southerland, 6-1, 6-4.
?(Files) was down 5-2 in the second set and got it back to 5-4 deuce and ended up losing on a very controversial call on the baseline which made it 4-6,” Northside coach Martin Hyatt said. “I would have hoped for Kate to win conference three years in a row, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Southerland had previously defeated Files in the regular season, and is the only player to defeat the Lady Bear standout all season.
Files started tournament play with consecutive 6-0, 6-0 wins to reach the semifinals, where she squared off against another solid player in Little Rock Central’s Eleanor Burks.
Files took the first set 6-2, then rallied from a big deficit in the second to take that set, 7-5, reaching the finals.
“She was down 3-5 in the second set, and this was where her will to win took over, she just had more mental intensity than her opponent and came back and won five straight games and won it, 7-5,” Hyatt said.
Northside had four members of its boys team qualify for state next week.
Two of the Grizzlies’ singles players, Will Thames and Kadin Hyatt, squared off against one another for fifth place, with Thames taking a 6-2, 6-4 win. Thames, a senior, has qualified for state all four seasons with the Grizzlies.
Hyatt qualified for state with a 6-4, 6-2 win in the consolation round against Southside freshman Robinson Wright.
The Grizzlies’ doubles team of Griffin Huckelbury and Sam Carlisle posted a big upset to claim third place, beating Little Rock Catholic’s top-seeded doubles squad, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Northside coach Martin Hyatt said that Catholic’s team had posted an 8-2 win in the regular season against Huckelbury and Carlisle.
“That was a good time for them to play their best match of the year,” Hyatt said.
Another Southside girls doubles team qualified for state, as the team of Ashlyn Roffine and Kate Coleman did just that. They beat a team from Cabot, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, to claim fifth place.
“They fought hard all weekend and three/fourths of their matches went the distance to three sets, which they won two-thirds of them,” Eads said.
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Roffine and Coleman qualified for state with a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 win in the consolation round.
After not sending any of its boys to state last season, Southside will have two going to state, the boys doubles team of Reiter Ahlert and Daniel Kiss.
Ahlert and Kiss qualified for state with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win in the consolation round against Northside’s team of Trey Rajsombath and Kevin Praphan before falling to a team from Catholic in the fifth-place match, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
“I thought they fought hard, but just ran out of steam at the end,” Eads said. “Reiter is a senior and missed out on state last year, so I’m excited for him this year.”
Little Rock Central claimed the boys team championship while Mount St. Mary was the girls team district winner....