Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 21, 2013

Americus-Sumter tennis conquers early season test with sweep of Crisp County

AMERICUS — The Americus-Sumter girl’s varsity tennis team was looking for revenge. After taking the Region 1-AAA Title two seasons ago, the Lady Panthers came up just short last season in the Region 1-AAAA race to the Crisp County Lady Cougars. On Tuesday night in Americus, the Lady Panthers followed their male counterparts and won their match-up with Crisp County to put themselves on the fast-track to a Region 1-AAAA Championship if they keep up their strong play throughout the regular season.

Facing your toughest competition of the regular season is never easy, and that task becomes even more difficult when the contest is only the third match of the season, according to Lady Panther head coach Terri Lee. “As soon as our season starts our region starts now,” Lee said. “To prepare we start as soon as possible and we play against the guys a lot which really helps us.”

The Lady Panthers got big wins from their two top singles players, Di Qi and Lauren Resnick, to set the pace of the match early. Qi only gave up one game to Julia Davis of Crisp in her first set before dominating the second set 6-0 to claim the Lady Panthers first match victory of the night. Resnick followed up Qi’s win with a dominating 6-2, 6-1 victory over Katy Miller to put Americus-Sumter within one win of the match victory over their fierce rivals.

Crisp County would earn their first win of the contest with a 6-4, 6-1 win by Ashley Denby over Camille Bennett in the number three singles match. The Lady Cougars also claimed a victory in the number two singles match when Sara Westra and Brook Benton fell to Crisp’s Jordan Farmer and Laura Bertelson 3-6, 2-6 to tie the match at 2-2.

With the match on the line, Lady Panthers number one doubles team of Ciara James and Jennifer Pinnell began an intense match against the number one doubles team from Crisp of Catherine Mayo and Danielle Wall. The Lady Panthers quickly fell behind in the match by dropping the first set 4-6 to the Lady Cougars. The girls from Americus-Sumter would not be defeated, however, and they roared back to life to claim the second set 6-3. In the tiebreaker, Americus-Sumter dominated the set 6-2 to take the set and claim the match win for the Lady Panthers in the pivotal early season match-up.

With the girls claiming a huge Region 1-AAAA win the Panthers were hoping to do the same over their region rival. In this match, however, the boy’s team would rely on a big performance from their doubles squads to claim their own 3-2 match victory and complete the sweep.

The only win in singles for the Panthers would come from number one singles player Joel Landis, who continued a perfect season with two 6-0 set wins to sweep his match. The Panthers were narrowly edged in the number two singles match-up when Heeral McGee fell to Crisp’s Jonathan Baker 9-11 in a tie breaker following a 6-3 first set victory and a 5-7 second set loss. Charles Kinnimon would also fall to Bryan Stewart 2-6 and 0-6 in the number three singles match to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead going into doubles action.

Fortunately for the Panthers, their doubles teams came to win, and they would not be denied in either of their two match-ups. In the first match Jason Parks and Andre Medina would defeat Crisp County’s Brandon Dominey and Zach West 6-2 in the first set before taking the second set 6-3 to finish off the match victory. In second doubles Khelan McGee and Logan Bennett would take each of their sets 6-2 to claim a match victory of their own and seal the 3-2 win for the Panthers in a tough match.

The two match wins for Americus-Sumter puts the teams in great position to make a strong run at the region title if they can continue to compete at that high level throughout the season. “We are excited because this was a big win for us,” said Lee. “They have a strong team that always plays us tough and this really makes you find what you are made of. We have a team with a lot of talent and potential but we’ve got to keep improving,” she added.

Americus-Sumter will hit the road as they travel to Albany today for a tough match-up against the Westover Patriots and Lady Patriots at Darton College. The match will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will also be a huge early season match in the Region 1-AAAA Title race.

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