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Boys teams in good shape for state

The county’s two boys tennis teams will compete in sectionals this week with good chances to make their respective state tournaments.

The girls teams, meanwhile, are either in their first year of competition (Chilton County) or still recovering from heavy losses to graduation (Jemison).

The CCHS girls finished fourth in the Class 5A, Section 5 tournament on Tuesday at Walker—not good enough to qualify for state but a solid showing considering the team is in its first year of competition.

Jemison’s girls (7-6, 2-3 against section foes) will compete as the No. 4 seed in the Class 4A, Section 2 tournament beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the O’Connor Tennis Center in Montgomery. The top two teams advance to state.

“They could surprise us,” coach Benton Morton said. “They’ve surprised us all year.”

The Panthers have only two players—No. 1 Ashley Gothard and No. 2 Jessica Swindle—back from last year’s team.

Jemison’s boys, meanwhile, will enter sectional play Thursday at O’Connor with No. 1 seeds at three positions (Andrew Morton at No. 5, Jake Long at No. 6 and Morton and Long at No. 3 doubles) and a 12-1 overall record. Their only loss, in their first contest of the season, was to St. James, who JHS will meet again in the sectional.

“We’re definitely better than we were at the beginning of the year,” Morton said. “We just have to handle the pressure.”

The CCHS boys (7-4, 3-0) are the No. 2 seed in their section, but they’ll have to beware of No. 3 seed Demopolis, who the Tigers snuck by, 5-4, in their only meeting of the season.

As the only two current players who participated last season in Chilton’s first trip to the state tournament, No. 1 Michael Elder and No. 2 Justin Mims have taken on leadership roles.

“My younger ones definitely look to them to see what they need to do,” coach Emily Espenan said.

Those younger ones include three players—Chase Baker, Rett Russell and Cameron Blackmon—competing for the first time but also one player, No. 3 Nicholas Lyn, who hasn’t lost a match all season.

“They are all optimistic about doing well,” Espenan said.