Gibbs, Carter take 5A Cen­tral crown

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

LIT­TLE ROCK – Cruis­ing to the 5A Cen­tral Con­fer­ence girls dou­bles match, Ben­ton se­nior Ash­lyn Gibbs and ju­nior Alyssa Carter ran into a glar­ing prob­lem, lit­er­ally, go­ing up against Sheri­dan’s Caswell and Crouse Tues­day at Chenal Coun­try Club in Lit­tle Rock.

Dur­ing their 4-6 first set de­feat to Sheri­dan in the ti­tle match, Ben­ton Coach Me­lanie Kiker asked her dou­bles duos what the deal was af­ter first ex­plain­ing a very im­por­tant strat­egy.

“Oddly enough, it was

1 o’clock in the af­ter­noon when they started the match,” Kiker said. “Alyssa is a lefty and Ash­lyn is a righty. My hus­band and I used to play ten­nis and he’s a lefty, and you never have to serve in the sun if you play with a left-handed player be­cause they face the op­po­site di­rec­tion. At the be­gin­ning of the match you just fig­ure out which di­rec­tion the sun is for each of you and just don’t serve on that side.”

Af­ter be­ing re­minded of this, Gibbs and Carter swept the floor with Sheri­dan, sweep­ing the next two matches 6-0, 6-0 head­ing into the 5A State Tour­na­ment, which be­gins Mon­day at Lake­side High School for the girls.

“I’ve told them that, Ash­lyn and Alyssa, and I started talk­ing to them in the mid­dle of the first set when they were down and said, ‘What’s go­ing on? Y’all don’t play like this nor­mally,” Kiker said. “Ash­lyn said, ‘I can’t see the lines af­ter I serve. I asked why she was serv­ing in the sun. They switched and they rolled them 6-0, 6-0. I asked them what made the dif­fer­ence and they said, ‘Not serv­ing in the sun.’ Once they switched they didn’t have a prob­lem af­ter that.”

Seeded No. 1, Gibbs and Carter rolled to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Syl­van Hills’ Ge­orge and Brown be­fore han­dling Dadlini and Justis of White Hall 6-1, 6-2.

Also in girls dou­bles, ju­niors Al­li­son Hall and Shealyn Hor­ton would pick up a 6-4, 7-5 vic­tory over White Hall’s Leder and Smith be­fore fall­ing 6-1, 6-4

to Sheri­dan’s Caswell and Crouse in the semis. The Hall/hor­ton duo picked up a win af­ter just com­ing to­gether the week be­fore.

“They tried. They lost the first set pretty hand­edly and they re­ally hun­kered down and tried to pull it out,” Kiker said. “But, they lit­er­ally had been a dou­bles team for one week, so they did pretty good for get­ting to the semis.”

Hall and Hor­ton would end up win­ning the third­place game 9-7 over White Hall’s Dadlini and Justis, also qual­i­fy­ing for state.

The Ben­ton boys will also be send­ing a dou­bles team to state af­ter sopho­mores Pey­ton Shipp and Luke Pel­ton made the fi­nals vs. Syl­van Hills’ Per­son and Ri­ley be­fore fall­ing 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 in the ti­tle match.

“They strug­gled a lit­tle bit in the fi­nals be­cause these boys (Syl­van Hills) were

re­ally, re­ally con­sis­tent and ag­gres­sive,” Kiker said. “We kind of left a lit­tle door open so we’re go­ing to work on that (Thurs­day) and this week­end so we aren’t weak in that area.”

Shipp and Pel­ton picked up a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 vic­tory over White Hall’s Brown and Ward be­fore tak­ing a 6-1, 6-4 win over Sherida’s Kut­tenkulev in the semis, de­spite not play­ing as part­ners all year.

“We spent most of the sea­son try­ing to fig­ure out who worked well in what po­si­tion,” Kiker said. “I started off the sea­son with Pey­ton play­ing with Eli

Rose be­cause they played to­gether last year as ninth­graders. Luke played sin­gles last year in con­fer­ence. Luke just doesn’t work as well in sin­gles and so putting him with a strong net player, be­cause Luke’s a base­line hit­ter. He hits the pret­ti­est

base­line top-spin fore­hand. He has the best tech­ni­cal form on the court any time he plays, but can’t go to the net well. So I put him with a net player with Pey­ton, and Pey­ton just runs to the net as fast he can and dom­i­nates at the net and then Luke sets him up.”

Ben­ton will also send a cou­ple sin­gles play­ers to state as sopho­mores Mar­celles Nash and Rylee Sisco ad­vanced with their fourth-place fin­ishes.

In boys sin­gles, the No. 1 seeded Nash de­feated Sheri­dan’s Cole Ar­dent 6-3, 6-4 be­fore fall­ing 7-6, 1-6,

2-6 to Syl­van Hills’ Caleb Bynum. Nash fell to Syl­van Hills’ Scott Thomas in the third-place game.

The Ben­ton boys will also play Mon­day at the state tour­ney at Hot Springs Coun­try Club.

In girls sin­gles, Sisco de­feated Syl­van Hills’ Anna

Bar­ranco 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round be­fore fall­ing to White Hall’s Sadie Guy 2-6, 0-6. Sheri­dan’s Jal­isa Ber­rieum downed Sisco 8-2 in the third-place game.

Also in girls sin­gles, ju­nior Erin Welch fell 1-6, 0-6 to Sheri­dan’s Glo­ria Chorico, the even­tual sin­gles champ. In boys sin­gles, fresh­man Blake Covert fell 2-6, 1-6 to White Hall’s Alex Bow­man, again the even­tual sin­gles champ.

In boys dou­bles ac­tion, ju­nior Nathan Wil­liams and sopho­more Eli Rose fell 6-7, 0-6 to Pers­son and Ri­ley, the boys dou­bles champs.

“We’re a young team this year,” Kiker said. “Most of the kids that played were 10th-graders so we were re­ally just try­ing to find our way fig­ur­ing out who worked to­gether. We’ll be strong next year.”

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