HENDERSONVILLE – The Wilson Central boys and girls tennis teams took a lot of positives away from the individual district tournament held last week at Memorial Park in Hendersonville.
Unfortunately for Wilson Central the team district tournament did not turn out nearly as well.
Both the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats held a third place finish in District 9-AAA, but neither were able to pull off an upset win as the boys team dropped a 4-1 decision to Hendersonville, and the girls were upended by Mt. Juliet 4-0.
The Wildcats, who finished in a three-way tie for first before being placed third due to tiebreakers, struggled from the get go as Commando freshman Ben Dorr defeated junior Braden Hammer by a 6-1, 6-1 count.
Hendersonville moved to a 2-0 advantage as freshman Brady Rucks defeated senior Houston Wood 6-1, 6-3 at the number two position.
Wilson Central drew to within one at 2-1 when junior Andrew Denning upended junior Garrett Franklin 6-3, 6-1 at number four singles.
The last two singles matches proved to be long matchups that went the way of the Commandos.
At number three singles senior Akbar Rahmani dropped the first set 6-1 before storming out to a 5-2 Lead over freshman Jared Burns. Burns battled back to force a tiebreaker where he overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat Rahmani 7-5 in the tiebreak.
Facing a 3-1 deficit, the action went to number one singles where Wilson Central sophomore Michael Mercante battled with junior Jackson Kinsler. In a repeat of the matchup for the district singles title a week ago which Mercante won in three sets, this time it was Kinsler who came away with the win.
Mercante took a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Kinsler mixed up strategies by taking pace off the ball and using different spins to claim the first set 7-5.
In the second set Mercante stormed out to another 3-0 lead before holding on to win the second set 6-4.
In the final set it was Kinsler this time who ran out to a 4-1 lead that was eventually stretched a to 5-2 advantage.
“The big points didn’t go our way at number one and three singles in boys,” first year Wilson Central coach Ryan Jent said. “We have to be better in those moments, but our kids fought hard and that’s all you can ask for.”
In girls action Wilson Central fell behind quickly, and strong performances by junior Riquera Smith and sophomore Caroline Fanous propelled Mt. Juliet to the win.
Mt. Juliet put the first point on the board as freshman Kennedy Cole dropped sophomore Jacey Staggs 6-0, 6-2 at number one singles.
Fanous, who well to Wilson Central senior Jennifer Beckham 6-1, 6-1 in the regular season, played well in big moments to reverse her fortunes to claim a 6-4, 6-4 win to give her squad a 2-0 advantage.
At number three singles Smith fell behind 5-2 in the first set to sophomore Savannah Westbrook before Smith mounted a furious comeback.
Smith won the next five games of the match, and 11 of the final 14 games to ensure a 7-5, 6-3 win to give the Lady Golden Bears a 3-0 advantage.
Mt. Juliet sophomore Carly Earnhardt easily won the first set 6-0 over Wilson Central senior Lani Lee, but Lee managed to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the second set.
Earnhardt managed to take the lead at 5-4 before Lee forced a second set tiebreaker. After holding a 4-2 lead in the tiebreaker, Earnhardt managed to play the big points exceptionally well by coming up with some nice shots that gave her a 7-5 win in the tiebreakers.
“I thought they (Mt. Juliet) played really, really well and with a lot of confidence,” Jent said. “They had some girls that did not get rattled, but stayed the course and continued to battle. That’s what good teams do.”
The losses were the final matches for seniors Houston Wood, Akbar Rahmani, Sean Moran, Jennifer Beckham, and Lani Lee.
Wood finished as an all-district performer for the season while Lee finished with three all-district awards to her credit.
“For having a new coach placed on them in mid-February I thought the kids did a fine job,” Jent said. “The team dealt with a change in what the culture of the program would look like in terms of how we did things, and I know that first year can be the hardest for all involved. I’m just really proud with the effort they gave and of the team we have.”