Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 21, 2014

Panther netters sweep Crisp in opener, girls fall 4-1

Boys open 2014 season with pivotal region road victory

CORDELE — Americus-Sumter’s Panther and Lady Panthers tennis teams undoubtedly form one of the strongest all-around programs in the state in Class AAAA. With both the Lady Panthers and Panthers claiming multiple region titles and making deep playoff runs in recent years, opposing teams have begun to fear the date on their schedules when they meet up with the Americus-Sumter netters on the courts.

On Tuesday evening in Cordele the Lady Panthers and Panthers opened their respective 2014 seasons against Crisp County. On the boys’ side of the action the Panthers claimed a dominant sweep, but on the girls’ side the defending Region 1-AAAA Champion Lady Panthers fell short against their rival by a final score of 4-1.

The Panthers got their pursuit of another region title off to a blistering start on the road by sweeping their competition 5-0. In the five matches, the Panthers outscored the Cougars by a total margin of 60 games to 23 on their way to the dominant sweep.

Taking over the number one singles spot from last year’s senior leader, Joel Landis, Heeral McGhee paced Americus-Sumter with back-to-back 6-1 set wins over Crisp’s Jonathan Baker to give the Panthers a 1-0 match lead. The lead quickly grew to 2-0 in the number two singles match where the Panthers’ Andre Medina defeated Crisp County’s Malik Pittman 6-2, 6-4 in his season opening win.

In the number three singles match, Logan Bennett sealed the deal against Cougar netter Zac West with a dominant 6-2, 6-3 match win. Bennett’s win guarenteed an Americus-Sumter victory, but the Panthers weren’t done just yet.

The powerful number one Americus-Sumter doubles pair of Khelan McGhee and Jason Parks made quick work of their Cougar counterparts, Shelby Arnette and Jonathan Walls, with a 6-0, 6-4 win in the first doubles match. In the number two doubles match, Americus-Sumter’s Will McCoy and Charles Kinnamon ended the sweep by defeating J.T. Black and Josh Powell of Crisp County with two 6-3 set victories to give the Panthers a 5-0 sweep.

Americus-Sumter head coach Carl Willis was naturally pleased with his team’s strong peroformance to open the season.

“It was a good start for us,” he said. “I was very pleased with earning our first win 5-0. I was also exceptionally pleased with the way our three singles players went out and took care of business.”

Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, the 2014 season got off to a bit of a rocky start in Cordele. Despite earning a hard-fought win in number one singles, Americus-Sumter dropped all but one of their remaining games to end thier opening match with a 4-1 loss.

The highlight of the match for the Lady Panthers came with two close victories by ace number one singles player Di Qi. Against a very talented Lady Cougar, Ashley Denby, Qi was able to maintain an early lead to collect a 7-5 win in the opening set. She then repeated her performance in the second set with another 7-5 showing to take the match.

Jordan Farmer and Julia Davis then took over the match for the Lady Cougars. In number two singles, Farmer defeated Lady Panther Camille Bennett 6-0, 6-0, and Davis posted the same score over Americus-Sumter’s Morgan Cloutier in the number three singles match to give Crisp a 2-1 lead.

The match was sealed in the number one doubles contest where Crisp’s duo of Alyssa Clements and Morgan Lawson defeated Mariam Perez and Tierra Nunn 6-0, 6-0. Catherine Mayo and Laura Bertelson finished the run for the Lady Cougars by taking down Americus-Sumter’s Maggie McCoy and Kahria Hadley with a 6-1, 6-0 victory to finalize the 4-1 match win over the defending champs.

Americus-Sumter will host their first match of the season on Monday in a titanic Region 1-AAAA match-up. The only region team that was able to best the Panthers last year, the Westover High Patriots, will be coming to Americus for a huge early season showdown. The doubleheader match-up will begin at the Americus-Sumter South Campus Tennis Complex located on Oak Avenue at 4:30 p.m.

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