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The Starkville High School tennis team came into Tuesday's match knowing it was the underdogs.
The Yellowjackets fought and battled but came up short losing to Oxford 7-0 in the second round of the Class 5A State playoffs at the SHS tennis courts.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match," SHS coach Rob Fyke said. "I was hoping we could fight through four matches, but I knew it was a long shot. (If) you look at the score, it obviously looks bad, but most were close. Pleased with the way they fought. Score doesn't look like we played them a competitive match, but if you know tennis you know that we were right there with them."
Jack Bryan and Aaron Rem fell to Robert Nance and Andrew Mullen 3-6, 1-6 in boys doubles action.
"We came in here knowing we were the underdogs," Bryan said. "We played our best. All of us played our best (Tuesday) but we just couldn't pull it out."
For next year, Bryan learned a lot from playing Oxford and hopes this motivates the rest of his teammates for the coming year.
"Oxford is definitely the team to beat," Bryan said. "They set the bar for where we need to be next year. They have just got a team that is very well-rounded and no weak links."
Emily Turner forced a tiebreak with Ann Marie Edlin, but fell 4-6, 6-10, 8-10 in girls singles play.
Hannah Laird and Dasha Bondrenko also forced a tiebreak but came up short to Kara Rose and Dmbrey Inman 4-6, 6-3, 8-10 in girls doubles action.
"I really thought that both of those positions had a chance of winning," Fyke said. "Both of them lost the first set and there's lots of reasons for that. They have played in some tough matches over the past year. A few of the tough matches we had scheduled (this year) got rained out. I think our kids came out a little less prepared for that level of competition in that first set than Oxford did. In a 10 point tiebreaker, anything can happen and we lost them."
Laird and Bondrenko tired to encourage each other an keep each other positive throughout the match.
"I really think that if we had some tougher matches earlier in the season we could handle them," Laird said. "We were both really nervous at the beginning. We tried to keep each other positive and tell each other positive things. That's all you can do when you're down."
Before their tiebreak set, Laird and Bondrenko talked about the gameplan.
"Just to keep stroking the ball and to not let them get it at the net," Laird said. "Not hit it to the one girl who was really good at the net."
Fyke talked to Laird and Bondrenko throughout the match and gave them some advice.
"They were a little tight at first," Fyke said. "Basically all I said was 'move your feet and bounce around a little bit.' Most of the time that allows tennis players to loosen up some and once they started loosing up they had the advantage. They just couldn't pull out the tiebreaker."
Ethan Muser fell to Baxter Elliott 2-6, 2-6 in boys singles play.
In boys doubles action, Brian Xu and Lewis Maynard lost to Will Swindoll and Quinn Elliott 1-6, 2-6.
Ashley Albritton and Christine Mazzola fell to Sarah Nash and McClellan Davis 1-6, 5-7.
In the final match of the day, Richard Hill and Mikala Taylor were unable to get a win in mixed doubles and lost to Cari Hansen and Judson Watson 5-7, 4-6.
The Yellowjackets had 12 individuals qualify for the individual side of state and competes May 7-8 in Ridgeland.View more articles in: