Houston Walker and Cade Teeple made program history last week at the MHSAA individual tennis championships.
On Thursday in Oxford, the Saltillo duo won the Class 5A boys doubles title – the Tigers’ first individual state title. Walker and Teeple defeated Grenada’s Ethan Klinck and Phillip Chandler in the finals, 6-1, 6-3.
“We kind of expected to make a similar run last year, but that got cut short,” ninth-year coach Josh Griffin said. “When we were able to come back together in the fall, we set some pretty high goals for ourselves, and we had a lot of kids buy in and put in a lot of work. …
“We all put in a good amount of work, but these guys put in their fair share and then some. They’re extremely talented, and they played in a lot of USTA tournaments over the last few summers, which helped with their development.”
Walker, a senior, and Teeple, a junior, played 24 doubles matches together this season, winning 22 of them. They’ve played together some in the past, and they also train together in Tupelo.
“This year they really developed some good chemistry,” Griffin said. “Each of them is a great singles player in their own right, but this year they found that magic together, and we wanted to keep it together as long as we could.”
The week prior, Saltillo reached the semifinals of the team tournament, losing to eventual champion Lafayette. Griffin said a lot of the Tigers’ success is owed to Walker and Teeple.
“Every team match that we had, everybody could count on them to lock down their court. … Even though they played with each other and everybody has their own role to play on the team, they definitely influenced the rest of the team and their development and training.”
New Albany, which won the 4A team title, had s strong showing at the individual tournament as well.
Everett Garrett was the boys single champion; Jill Gafford and Isabella Aldridge won the girls doubles title; and the tandem of Sarah Robbins and Joseph Fennell captured the mixed doubles crown.