Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

March 28, 2013

Southland tennis splits road match with Westwood, sweeps Tiftarea at home

AMERICUS — Southland Academy’s Raider and Lady Raider tennis teams knew they were in for a tough test to start their week. On Monday, Southland faced the difficult task of traveling to Camilla to take on the Westwood Wildcats and Lady Wildcats. Tuesday was not much easier for the Southland teams as they welcomed the Tiftarea Panthers and Lady Panthers to town for a region brawl. Following a split on Monday night, each of Southland’s teams had a huge performance in front of their home crowd to claim a pivotal sweep of a tough Tiftarea tennis program.

The Raiders dominant early-week performance began with a 5-0 match sweep of Westwood on the road. In number one singles, Kyle Crew won 8-5 and the Raiders followed with two 8-1 victories in number two and three singles by Alex Arnold and Andrew McDonald to seal the match victory. Matthew Ledger and McClain Cummins took the number one doubles match, and John Wojner and Corey Doggett finished the match off with an 8-7 win after taking their tiebreaker 10-5 to give the Raiders the sweep.

For the Lady Raiders, the only win of the match came at number one singles where Kendall Crew defeated Westwood’s Savannah Jones 8-4. With losses in the number two and three singles competitions, along with the number one and two doubles matches, the Lady Wildcats took the match 4-1.

The Lady Raiders responded in a big way on Tuesday, however, as they avenged a March 7 loss to the Tiftarea Lady Panthers in Chula. Southland’s girl’s team claimed a narrow 3-2 match victory over the talented Lady Panther tennis team that could have gone either way following decisive tiebreaker sets in both doubles matches.

Tiftarea’s number one singles player defeated Kendall 6-4, 6-4 in the number one singles match, but Maddison Whittaker and Summer Jones each won their match 6-1, 6-0 in the number two and three singles matches to give the Lady Raiders a 2-1 match lead.

Dallas NeSmith and Avery Hart narrowly lost their first set to Westwood’s Caitlyn Albritton and Taylor Gray, but the talented Lady Raider duo fought their way back to tie the match with an impressive 6-3 second set win. In the match-deciding tiebreaker, Nesmith and Hart stormed their way to a 10-5 win to seal the match victory for the Lady Raiders.

Brandi Sellars and Kaleigh Hernandez got Southland going in the number two doubles match also as the Lady Raiders pursued a 4-1 match victory. The Southland pair won their first set by an impressive 6-3 score, but dropped their second set 2-6 to be forced into a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker the Lady Raiders number two team came up just, falling to Westwood’s Ali Rippey and Rachel Thomason 7-10 to finalize the match score 3-2 in favor of Southland.

The Raiders would have little trouble in their portion of the doubleheader as they stormed in front earlier and kept the pedal to the metal on their way to their second-straight 5-0 match sweep.

Kyle once again had an impressive showing on the courts with a 6-4 first set victory followed by a 6-0 shutout of Tiftarea’s Eli Summer in the second set. Arnold also made quick work of his opponent in the number two singles match with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Tiftarea’s Kyle Bernard. Not to be outdone, McDonald defeated Tiftarea’s Cole McClain 6-1, 6-0 in the number three singles match to give the Raiders the win, and a 3-0 lead going into the doubles competition.

In one of the most impressive performances of the day, Southland’s number one doubles team of Cummins and Ledger took down Tiftarea’s Taylor Dukes and Mitchell Layfield in back-to-back 6-0 set wins to give the Raiders a 4-0 match lead.

With the sweep in sight, the Raiders number two doubles team of Wojner and Doggett quickly fell behind to Tiftarea’s Nathan Duvall and Trent Hobbs with a 1-6 first set loss. The young Raiders battled back, however, and claimed the second set by a small 7-6 margin to force a 10 game tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Wojner and Doggett stormed ahead and claimed a 10-7 win and seal the sweep for the home team.

The two day sweep pushed the Raiders record to 11-2 overall and 4-1 in the region. The Lady Raiders split with Westwood and Tiftarea extended their season record to 5-8 overall and 2-3 in the region.

Southland’s tennis teams will return to action on Thursday when they hit the road to take on Calvary Christian in a match beginning at 3 p.m. Earlier this season, the Raiders and Lady Raiders swept the Knights and Lady Knights in Americus.

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