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Chilton County tennis arrives

Chilton County’s tennis program isn’t the little brother anymore.

In their third full season, the Tigers yesterday defeated perennial power Jemison (5-1) for the first time, 6-3, while finally coming into the match as the more experienced team. CCHS (5-0) is led by two seniors and a junior that have been part of the team since the beginning—while Jemison features only one returning player from last year’s team.

“They’ve been so good for so long, but they’ve just got some younger players this year,” CCHS coach Chris Miller said.

After the lone returning player from last season, senior Blake Beard, the Panthers that competed yesterday were all sophomores or below.

Some of those youngsters, though, were successful. Eighth graders Andrew Morton and Jake Long won the No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches, respectively, 10-3 and 10-3. The two teamed up to win the No. 3 doubles match, 10-2.

“The younger guys really stepped up for me,” Jemison coach Benton Morton said.

But Chilton’s veteran trio of Cody Jones, Michael Elder and Andy Foshee accounted for five of their team’s six points. The graybeards also might be having a positive effect on their younger teammates.

Junior and second-year player Justin Mims, for example, stepped into the No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles slots for the injured Cody Cummings, and Mims was victorious in both matches.

“The older kids have been such a good influence of the younger ones, and I think that showed today,” Miller said.

Though disappointed in his team’s first loss of the season, Morton said he thinks the emergence of a rival to his Panthers will be a good thing for high school tennis in the county.

“You have to hand it to Clanton, they were definitely the better team today,” Morton said. “It’s going to be their year. I wish them well. I hope they go all the way to state.”