Perfect challenge – Undefeated Ansley leads Pelham to state tourney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Pelham doubles partners Brent Bozeman and John McKay knew they were going to have to pull a major upset if the Panthers were going to have a shot at the section tournament title.

The pair entered the Class 6A, Section 5 tournament as underdogs to Oak Mountain’s Andrew Schwartz and Dalton Walsh.

&uot;I told Brent I wanted him to show me how much he wanted to go to state, because this was the last year he was going to be able to go,&uot; McKay said of his senior partner.

McKay and Bozeman won the match 7-6, 6-0 to help Pelham clinch the section crown and earn a berth in the AHSAA state tennis tournament this week.

&uot;It was really up to me and John to take us to state,&uot; Bozeman said. &uot;And after we beat Oak Mountain I think I threw my racket up about a mile in the air.&uot;

The victory came on the heels of a day where four Pelham players made it to the finals in singles play, only to fall short in the title match.

Tim Ansley was Pelham’s only singles player to win in the finals, reamaining undefeated on the year with a victory over Vestavia’s Justin Detwiler.

Bozeman and McKay came off the court at the same time as Ansley and his doubles partner, Andrew Stone, who defeated Vestavia Hills 6-1, 6-3 to give Pelham the edge.

The Panthers claimed their first section tournament title in school history with 42 team points, followed by Oak Mountain and Vestavia with 39 each.

It was the closest score ever at a 6A, Section 5 tournament, according to Pelham tennis coach Betty Shivers.

Oak Mountain won the tiebreaker over Vestavia, who hosted the six-team tournament including Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County and Woodlawn.

&uot;Our guys had to step it up in doubles play and that made the difference,&uot; Shivers said. &uot;That’s why we ended up being the section winner.&uot;

Bryant Gardner, Schwartz and Walsh each claimed first place for Oak Mountain in singles play.

Andrew Stone, John Flaniken, Bozeman and McKay each finished second for Pelham.

Both schools qualified for the state tournement this week at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Pelham begins play tomorrow, led by Ansley, who carries a perfect 18-0 record into state competition in his senior year.

Vestavia’s Justin Detwiler, who Ansley defeated to win the No. 6 singles at the section tournament, is the only player who has even taken Ansley to three sets this year.

&uot;I think our goals are to take it match by match and win as many as we can,&uot; Ansley said. &uot;If we do that the points will just roll in.&uot;

Ansley will be a favorite to compete for the state title in singles play as the Panthers hope to figure in the battle for the 6A team crown.

&uot;They feel like they can go down to state and make a difference. They realize they can play with the best,&uot; Shivers said. &uot;This is a program that has come 17 years to reach this point.