Combs beats Flaniken for title

Two of the state’s top-ranked tennis players battled for the Shelby County No. 1 singles championship Friday, with high school tennis newcomer Ryan Combs of Westminster Christian dominating defending champ John Flaniken of Pelham, 8-1.

Combs, ranked fourth in Alabama, attacked fifth-ranked Flaniken throughout the match, besting the 2006 No. 2 singles state champ with every ball. His one game yielded to Flaniken was the only Combs dropped all day.

“I wasn’t playing my best, but all credit’s to Ryan. He played unbelievable. There’s nothing more to say about it, he dominated me,” Flaniken said.

Flaniken and Combs have been friends for years, even before Combs picked up a racquet seriously. Normally playing doubles together in junior tournaments, the two have faced off five times in singles play. Friday’s win gave Combs a 3-2 advantage in the competition. It’s a match neither likes to play unless in practice.

“He’s a natural athlete. He’s aggressive. He tries to end the point in two or three shots and that’s not how I like to play. I like to drag the point out,” Flaniken said. “This is the best I’ve seen him serve in a long time. There’s not much I can do about that.”

Despite winning the last two meetings, Combs simply said, “I’d rather not see him again.”

After all, the Flainken he faced Friday was not the Flaniken he’s used to seeing.

“I think he was down a little bit, I’m not sure why. I definitely don’t think he was at the top of his game,” Combs said.

Flaniken (16-2) admits he’s in a slump and needs a big win to regain confidence. That win may be this week at sectionals in Tuscaloosa, while Combs (9-0) will look to advance to his first 1A-3A state tournament through the sectionals at Altamont today.

Combs led Westminster to a third-place finish in its first county tournament, while Briarwood squeaked past Pelham to win.

TEAM RESULTS

Briarwood (BWD) – 44

Pelham (PEL) – 39

Westminster (WEST) – 23

Indian Springs (ISS) – 18

Oak Mountain (OM) – 9

Shelby County (SC) – 8

Chelsea (CHEL) – 6

Thompson (THOM) – 0

No. 1 SINGLES

First Round

John Flaniken (PEL) def. William Nolan (ISS), 10-1

Toby Vogeleit (SC) def. Thomas Mason (OM), 10-6

Tyler Bass (BWD) def. Nathan Vickers (CHEL), 10-2

Ryan Combs (WEST) def. Wes Robinson (THOM), 10-0

Semifinals

John Flaniken (PEL) def. Vogeleit (SC), 10-1

Combs (WEST) def. Bass (BWD), 10-0

Final

Combs (WEST) def. John Flaniken (PEL), 8-1

No. 2 SINGLES

First Round

Richard Baxley (ISS) def. Jonathan Wilson (OM), 10-8

Thomas Cusick (CHEL) def. Taylor Payne (SC), 10-4

Jim Flaniken (PEL) def. Matt Nichols (BWD), 10-0

Richard Robey (WEST) def. Jalen Wesley (THOM), 10-0

Semifinals

Cusick (CHEL) def. Baxley (ISS), 10-7

Jim Flaniken (PEL) def. Robey (WEST), 10-0

Finals

Jim Flaniken (PEL) def. Cusick (CHEL)

No. 3 SINGLES

First Round

Andy Shaw (CHEL) def. Matt Jennings (THOM), 10-1

Will Gurley (WEST) def. Johan Choo (ISS), 10-9

Conner Portwood (PEL) def. Nat Miller (SC), 10-2

Taylor Henderson (BWD) def. Hunter Dodson (OM), 10-0

Semifinals

Gurley (WEST) def. Shaw (CHEL), 10-5

Henderson (BWD) def. Portwood (PEL), 10-3

Finals

Henderson (BWD) def. Gurley (WEST), 6-3, 1-6, 10-7

No. 4 SINGLES

First Round

Jack Dillard (ISS) def. John Franklin (CHEL), 10-2

Koleman Nix (WEST) def. Andrew Erickson (THOM), 10-3

Josh Laxson (OM) def. Andrew Miller (SC), 10-2

Andy Bridgewater (PEL) def. Phillip Taylor (BWD), 10-7

Semifinals

K. Nix (WEST) def. Dillard (ISS), 10-8

Bridgewater (PEL) def. Laxson (OM), 10-8

Finals

Bridgewater (PEL) def. K. Nix (WEST), 6-0, 6-1

No. 5 SINGLES

First Round

Preston Touliatos (BWD) def. Julian Jackson (OM), 10-4

Keith Marson (ISS) def. Blake McLaughlin (CHEL), 10-8

James Nix (WEST) def. Michael Bullington (THOM), 10-1

Peyton Davis (PEL) def. Brandon Quick (SC), 10-0

Semifinals

Davis (PEL) def. J. Nix (WEST), 10-4

Toulitos (BWD) def. Mason (ISS), 10-3

Finals

Toulitos (BWD) def. Davis (PEL), 6-4, 3-6, 10-5

No. 6 SINGLES

First Round

Griffin Russell (BWD) def. Dylan Campbell (CHEL), 10-0

Brock Bellsnyder (PEL) def. Hayden Hyat (SC), 10-2

Taylor Rinks (OM) def. Hank Son (THOM), 10-2

Tal Loworn (WEST) def. Kevin Lee (ISS), 10-5

Semifinals

Russell (BWD) def. Bellsnyder (PEL), 10-7

Rinks (OM) def. Loworn (WEST), 10-3

Finals

Russell (BWD) def. Rinks (OM), 6-2, 7-5

No. 7 SINGLES

First Round

Taylor Honeycutt (PEL), bye

Bryan Wolfe (OM) def. Welford Moore (WEST), 10-2

Dade Smith (SC) def. Kevin Cree (CHEL), 10-0

Taylor Brewton (BWD), bye

Semifinals

Honeycutt (PEL) def. Wolfe (OM), 10-5

Brewton (BWD) def. Smith (SC), 10-0

Finals

Brewton (BWD) def. Honeycutt (PEL), 61, 6-2

No. 8 SINGLES

First Round

Alexander Free (PEL), bye

Jay Holton (OM), bye

Scott McClure (WEST) def. Zach Miller (SC), 10-1

Russell Hancock (BWD), bye

Semifinals

Holton (OM) def. Free (PEL), 10-6

Hancock (BWD) def. McClure (WEST), 10-6

Finals

Hancock (BWD) def. Holton (OM), 6-4, 6-4

No. 1 DOUBLES

First Round

Combs/Robey (WEST) def. Cusick/Vickers (CHEL), 10-0

Flaniken/Flaniken (PEL) def. Vogeleit/Payne (SC), 10-1

Nolan/Dillard (ISS) def. Robinson/Erickson (THOM), 10-4

Bass/Nichols (BWD) def. Cosgrove/Laxson (OM), 10-7

Semifinals

Flaniken/Flaniken (PEL) def. Combs/Robey (WEST), 10-5

Bass/Nichols (BWD) def. Nolan/Dillard (ISS), 10-1

Finals

Flaniken/Flaniken (PEL) def. Bass/Nichols (BWD), 10-1

No. 2 DOUBLES

First Round

Henderson/Toulitos (BWD) def. Conner/Bridgewater (PEL), 10-6

Jake Morinelli (OM) def. Shaw/Franklin (CHEL), 10-1

Baxley/Choo (ISS) def. Gurley/Moore (WEST), 10-4

N. Miller/A. Miller (SC) def. Jennings/Wesley (THOM), 10-7

Semifinals

Henderson/Toulitos (BWD) def. Morinelli (OM), 10-2

Baxley/Choo (ISS) def. N. Miller/A. Miller (SC), 10-5

Finals

Henderson/Toulitos (BWD) def. Baxley/Choo (ISS), 4-6, 6-3, 10-5

No. 3 DOUBLES

First Round

Davis/Bellsnyder (PEL) def. Bullington/Son (THOM), 10-1

Quick/Smith (SC) def. McLaughlin/Campbell (CHEL), 10-5

Mason/Lee (ISS) def. Holton/Wolfe (OM), 10-8

Taylor/Griffin (BWD) def. Nix/Nix (WEST), 10-3

Semifinals

Davis/Bellsnyder (PEL) def. Quick/Smith (SC), 10-4

Taylor/Griffin (BWD) def. Mason/Lee (ISS), 10-3

Finals

Taylor/Griffin (BWD) def. Davis/Bellsnyder (PEL)

No. 4 DOUBLES

First Round

Honeycutt/Free (PEL), bye

Dodson/Rinks (OM), bye

Doggett/Lovvorn (WEST) def. Hyatt/Z. Miller (SC), 10-2

Brewton/Hancock (BWD), bye

Semifinals

Dodson/Rinks (OM) def. Honeycutt/Free (PEL), 10-6

Brewton/Hancock (BWD) def. Doggett/Lovvorn, 10-2

Finals

Brewton/Hancock (BWD) def. Dodson/Rinks (OM)