Spain Park Tennis
Spain Park's Sydney Ellison in the Class 7A, Section 3 tournament on Monday, April 17, 2017, at Spain Park High School in Hoover, Alabama.
HOOVER – Monday marked a first for the Spain Park High School girls tennis program.
The Jags finished second in the Class 7A, Section 3 tournament, clinching the team’s spot at the state tournament next week. They edged out Vestavia Hills for the second and final spot to qualify for state along with the winner, Mountain Brook.
The accomplishment marks the first time the team has advanced to the state tournament. Individuals have competed at state in the past, but the Jags have never done so as a team.
“Clearly, it’s exciting being the first time as a team to attend the state tournament,” Spain Park coach Amber Lewis said. “I’m glad they’ll get to have that experience. That’s a memory they’ll have for a lifetime.”
The competition with Vestavia and Mountain Brook came down to the final matches of the day, the doubles finals. Spain Park took home two of those three to propel them to victory.
On the No. 1 line of doubles, sisters Sydney and Daryn Ellison won the section title. The sisters won the state title as a doubles pair last season, one of Lewis’ previous experiences taking individual players to compete at state.
With those two having the experience on that stage, Lewis said she would use their experience to prepare the team for the next step, the state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery next Monday and Tuesday, April 24-25.
“It’s a different state of mind, different level of competition, and different level of pressure,” Lewis said.
In the No. 2 doubles final, Lindsay Song and Riley Ford teamed up to grab another win, a critical one for the Jags. Along with the Ellison sisters winning, those two wins pushed Spain Park over the hump and gave the Jags second place.
In all, the Jags took home four titles, a pair of singles and doubles titles each. Song and Sydney Ellison won the Nos. 2 and 3 singles brackets, respectively, with the other four Spain Park singles players advancing to the semifinals. Daryn Ellison competed in the No. 1 bracket, Mychelle Widra at No. 4, Hannah Luther at No. 5 and Riley Ford at No. 6. Widra and Luther reached the semifinals from the No. 3 doubles slot.
With the top 2 finish in the section tournament, the Jags achieved a goal for this season. But now that it’s out of the way, the Jags aren’t content with settling for just a state tournament berth.
“I certainly have an expectation and goal to reach (at state),” Lewis said. “Our goal has been sectionals, simply because there’s no state without sectionals. I don’t want us to look past the first round, and we’ll move on from there. We’re not going to jump ahead or look at what any other favorite is doing.
“We have to take care of our own business and the rest is out of our hands. I want them to enjoy every minute. It’ll be an exciting time. It’s even more exciting when you win.”