Wildcat netters ousted in second round
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

April 7, 2004 -- McKINNEY -- The Sulphur Springs tennis teams competed against the best District 11-4A had to offer Tuesday at the McKinney North High tennis courts, and although no Wildcat advanced to today's action, there were still plenty of positives to go around.

Rain delayed matches for over two hours, but the players were still able to play the first two rounds on what turned out to be a picture-perfect day.

Cody Moore and Ryan Thompson both had solid outings in their singles matches, both beating players from Paris.

Moore outlasted Trace Cochran 6-3, 6-2 and faced Sherman's Trent O'Bannon, who entered as the third seed. The two fought back and forth, with O'Bannon capturing the first set 6-3. Moore was unable to come back and fell 6-0 in the second.

"I really felt Cody presented the best chance for us to advance," SSHS coach Mike Armstrong said. "I thought overall that the girls were a bit more consistent today, and hopefully the boys can take a lesson from that. Ryan played really well."

Thompson won his first match with relative ease over G.T. Elliott and had the unenviable task of playing No. 1 seed Bentley Dye of Sherman.

Dye won the battle of the sophomores 6-0, 6-1, but it was a closer match than the score would attest. It was the first meeting between the two, and Thompson said he learned a lot from playing against one of the state's best players.

"He's tough," Thompson said. "I was happy to win one game off of him, but looks can be deceiving. It was a closer match than it looks like on paper. I hope we play again in the future, because it made me better playing someone of his caliber. I'm ready for next year."

Dye and Greenville's Tim Vinsant will face off in the semifinals, while O'Bannon and McKinney North's Ben Hirvela were competing in their semifinal match Tuesday, but scores were unavailable.

Speaking of Vinsant, Tim's sister Rachel, the No. 1 seed in girls singles, beat Lady Cat Anja Sturzl 6-0, 6-1 and will face No. 4 Molly Green of McKinney North in today's semifinal action.

Sturzl won her first match 6-0, 6-2 over Paris High's Stephanie Smothermon, as the German foreign exchange student had a solid showing in the tournament.

Sophomore Cynthia Sanchez was unable to overcome the heartbreak of an emotional loss in a first-set tiebreaker and fell 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 to Denison's Katie Williams. Third seed Christine Hosek of Sherman disposed of Williams 6-4, 6-1 in the second round and was playing No. 2 Christine Florez of McKinney North in the second semifinal.

The Lady Wildcat doubles team of Larissa Knotts and Laura Russell tried to throw the No. 1 McKinney North duo of Ashley Francis and Laura Parker off their game with lob shots but were unsuccessful in a 6-0, 6-1 loss. Francis and Parker advanced to today's semifinal against No. 4 Denison's Charlotte Barrier and Erin Thompson.

It didn't overshadow Knotts and Russell's first match against Paris High's Meredith Rhodes and Cindy Williams in what was the most exciting match of the day.

Knotts and Russell took a tight first set 6-4, but Rhodes and Williams fought back to tie the match, winning 6-4 to set up a deciding third set. The Lady Cat duo didn't crumble under the pressure and took the final set 6-2 in a match that lasted well over three hours.

"They beat us in two sets last time," Knotts said. "It was good to turn things around and beat them this time."

Russell agreed and said the length of the first match took away some of their energy for the second.

"It was a long match, that's for sure," Russell said. "We did a pretty good job, and it was nice to come back and win after they took the second set away from us."

Armstrong was pleased with the team's performance.

"I was proud of Larissa and Laura," Armstrong said. "The way they came back in the third set was impressive."

Alyssa Armstrong and Crystal Figueroa were unable to fight back from a loss in the first set and fell 6-1, 6-3 to Lady Bearcats Zena Habal and Becca Rogers.

The boys doubles team of Tyler Law and Paul Pattberg fell 6-0, 6-1 to No. 1 Allen Hueston and Patrick Kinnamon of McKinney North. The SSHS duo won their first match 6-2, 6-1 over Paris High's Paul Bratteli and Ross Williams.

Landon McCaig was pressed into action after Brant Small dislocated his knee cap in a recent workout. McCaig teamed up with Luke Panter and lost a nip-and-tuck first set 6-3 to the Bearcat team of David Estes and Lance McDonald. McCaig and Panter fell 6-0 in the second set.

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