Pelham juniors win state titles

Published 11:30 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two junior tennis teams from the Pelham Racquet Club captured first-place finishes at the USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championships in Auburn July 25-26.

The 18-under PRC Topspin Tornadoes won 181 total games to win their group. The Inverness team finished only nine games behind PRC.

Whitney Jackson, a student at Kingwood, clinched the intermediate championship for the Tornadoes with an 8-6 victory in girls’ singles. Another Kingwood student, Jim Scott, and Jeremy Parrish, of Hope Christian, went undefeated in the tournament at boys’ doubles.

Oak Mountain’s Joshua Sipin helped lead the Tornadoes through singles play, while Pelham’s Lauren Davis and Callen Young teamed up to win No. 3 girl’s doubles.

The PRC also won the 14-under intermediate championship, as the Heat posted a 6-0 record against their opponents. The tournament was set up for each team to play five courts per match, including boy’s and girl’s, singles and doubles, and mixed. During the six rounds, the Heat won 29 of the 30 courts they played. The Heat won 235 games, 42 more than second-place Mobile, to win the championship.

The title is the fourth-straight for Peyton Davis, Mary and Paul Lichlyter and Balark Chethan. Taylor Honeycutt and Kourtney Sipin have now won three championships, while Holli Gray won for the second-straight year. Laura Harwell won her third-straight, while her Thompson Middle School teammate, John Gordon Barnes, won his first.

In other divisions, the PRC 12-under Underdogs posted a 4-1 record, losing only to eventual champion, Tuscaloosa.

The state championships qualified the teams to compete in Mobile, Aug. 22-24, for the USTA Junior Team Tennis Southern Sectionals.

The wins helped give coach Rusty Wilkes his 11th junior state title in six years. The club has won five straight titles in the 18-under division since 2003. Six PRC teams have finished in the Top 5 at the Southern Sectionals in the past.

Wilkes has also had five players win national championships in the U.S. Youth Games in the past.