These three Lee County high school tennis players from left to right, Kendell KImbrough of Saltillo, Brent Conwill of Shannon and and Carrie Christian of Shannon participated in the recent Class 3A state tennis tournament at Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson. Conwill and Christian won the 3A mixed doubles state title while Kimbrough lost in the girls singles finals.
By Gene Phelps
JACKSON Just give Brent Conwill a partner and he'll win a state championship.
That's the strategy Shannon has used the last three seasons with a lot of success, including Thursday when Conwill, a senior, and freshman Carrie Christian defeated New Albany's Jim McKinney and Sarah Hamilton 6-0, 5-7, 6-0 to win the Class 3A mixed doubles state title.
It was Conwill's third straight state championship. He won in mixed doubles last season with Amanda Robinson and won in boys doubles two years ago with Michael Montgomery.
"That's three straight," a smiling Conwill said after his win at the Bridges Tennis Center. "It feels great. It's a dream come true. Nobody's ever done this at Shannon before."
Ironically, Conwill and Christian suffered their only loss of the season last week to New Albany's McKinney and Hamilton, losing 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 in the Divison 1-3A tournament in Corinth.
"It was our day at district and their day when it counted," McKinney said. "It wasn't us; they played well."
Four of Thursday's five Class 3A finals featured Northeast
In boys doubles, defending state champions Kris Corpstein and Rob Carter of New Albany lost 6-2, 6-4 to Eupora freshmen Trent Yates and Tripp Yates. The win helped Eupora clinch the 3A team championship.
In girls doubles, Pontotoc's Rachel Springer and Katherine Benjamin lost in the finals to Eupora's Claire Yates and Katie Johnson 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
In girls singles, Saltillo's Kendell Kimbrough lost 6-1, 6-1 to Eupora's Cherrie Herard.
It was a rough afternoon for New Albany's Corpstein, who had his serve broken four times by the Eupora twins.
"Give them credit," Corpstein said, "they returned them."
New Albany took a 1-0 lead with Carter serving in the first set, but then lost six of its next seven games to lose the set. Carter won his serve and then helped break Eupora to go up 2-0. Eupora rallied to break New Albany's service three times.
"They're good," New Albany's Carter said. "They deserved it. They played a whole lot better than we did."
Trent Yates said they were intimidated at first playing the defending state champions.
"We played well," Trent Yates said. "We let them (Corpstein and Carter) know we were for real."
Added Tripp Yates, "We felt good warming up and we played well early. We played great."
Saltillo's Kimbrough, a softball signee at Mississippi State, was no match for Eupora's Herard.
"I just didn't play well today," Kimbrough said. "She (Herard) got the shots she needed."
n In another match, Okolona's John Blankenship and Mary Frances Ward reached the Class 2A semifinals before falling 6-0, 6-0 to Mandy Hillis and Brad Mazzanti of Greenville St. Joseph, which won the 2A team title.
Class 4A played its opening round Thursday and has its semifinals and finals today. Class 5A and 1A begin play today and finish up with semifinals and finals Saturday.
Tupelo, which won the Division 2-5A championship last week, comes into the tournament as the two-time defending state champion.