Morgan girls hang tough, but Tuscaloosa wins AISA title

Published 11:39 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Morgan Academy’s Emily Sherrer hits a backhand in a No. 2 singles match against Tuscaloosa Academy’s Natalie Arnold Tuesday at Lagoon Park.  Sherrer lost 6-4, 6-2. — Justin Fedich

Morgan Academy’s Emily Sherrer hits a backhand in a No. 2 singles match against Tuscaloosa Academy’s Natalie Arnold Tuesday at Lagoon Park. Sherrer lost 6-4, 6-2. — Justin Fedich

Four Morgan Academy Senators girls tennis players earned a trip to the Alabama Independent School Association championship match Tuesday at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, but the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights didn’t falter in any match.

Mary Ashlyn Pearce came the closest to victory for the Morgan girls in the finals, as she kept the score tight the entire way through in a 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) loss to Tuscaloosa Academy’s Madison Elmore in No. 5 singles.

“Our kids have gotten better in the last two days,” said Morgan head coach Baxter Stinson.

In a regular season match eight days prior, Pearce lost to Elmore 6-3, 6-3. On Tuesday, Pearce was one of only two Senators players on the boys or girls side to bring a set in a finals match to a tiebreaker.

At No. 2 singles, Emily Sherrer lost 6-2, 6-4 to Tuscaloosa’s Natalie Arnold. Stinson said he could see Sherrer improving throughout the course of the match, not giving up despite facing a deficit the majority of the way.

“Morgan always has a strong, competitive team,” said seventh-year Tuscaloosa head coach Clete Browder said. “They have a fighting spirit about them. I can’t ever remember playing Morgan and it wasn’t close.”

Morgan’s Sophie Talton lost her finals match at No. 3 singles to Abby Fleenor 6-4, 6-2, but she was still proud of her effort afterward.

“We had some incredible points, so I think I went out on a good note,” Talton said.

Talton said her proudest moment as a tennis player might have come in the match prior, when she won her semifinal match to advance to the finals.

“In the semifinals, I ended my match with an overhead and usually all my overheads go in the net, so it was a pretty good feeling,” Talton said.

Sophie’s sister, Annie Talton lost her match at No. 4 singles to Lizzie Bonhaus 6-0, 6-0.

“Tuscaloosa is just a step above,” Stinson said.

Browder attributed his team’s five straight boys and girls titles to having the same group of players who come prepared for every match.

“It’s the players. I definitely have talented players and they have a really good work ethic,” Browder said. “They prepare and they love competing and they love the challenge.

“When you have that mixture, good things happen.”

About Justin Fedich

Staff writer for The Selma Times-Journal.

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