The Greenwood Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs are the 2023 5A West conference champions, determined on the courts at Russellville High School and Arkansas Tech University, October 2-3. The victory was spearheaded by the Lady Bulldogs, who went 8-3 for the tournament while the Bulldogs went 2-4 overall. Four GHS players also qualified to compete in the Class 5A state tournament held last week. Head Coach Dexter Pearcy and volunteer assistant Randy Magness and their players concluded their successful season only months after the passing of former GHS tennis coach Dr. Ken Hamilton.
Senior singles player Bella King had a great tournament for the Lady Bulldogs, winning three of four matches to earn third place. She first defeated a player from Van Buren, 6-1, 6-1, then won her second-round match against a girl from Mountain Home, 6-2, 6-3. Her lone setback came in the semi-finals against Harrison’s top singles player. King lost that match, 3-6, 5-7, but then won the third-place match against another player from Van Buren, winning their lone set, 8-3. Greenwood’s #2 singles player, junior Emma Koenigseder, won her first-round match over a Harrison Lady Goblin, 6-1, 6-2, but lost her next match to a Van Buren player, 1-6, 1-6.
In doubles action, the GHS duo of Harper Berg and Lydiah Belue combined to win all four of their matches to claim the title of best doubles team in the conference. They first defeated a player from Greenbriar, 6-0, 6-1, then posted another dominating victory over an opponent from Van Buren, 6-1, 6-1. In the semi-finals they defeated a Mountain Home duo in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, and 6-4 to reach the finals. They won the championship by defeating Mountain Home’s best doubles team. The Lady Bulldogs’ other doubles duo of Emma Wirth and Maleah Cole won their first-round match over a team from Greenbriar, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), before dropping their next match to a Mountain Home pair, 2-6, 0-6.
The GHS boys got both of their victories in singles play with senior J.J. Acosta winning his first two matches against Greenbriar and Mountain Home. He then lost to a Van Buren opponent in the semi-finals before dropping the third-place match to a player from Mountain Home. The Bulldogs’s #2 singles player, junior Alex Schaefer, lost his opening match to Van Buren. The doubles team of Lucas Hefflin and Jamie Chang lost to Harrison, and Caleb Schaefer and Wesley Jarrell lost their opening match to Siloam Springs.
J.J. Acosta, Bella King, Harper Berg, and Lydiah Belue all qualified for the 5A state tournament played at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock last week, October 9-10. In girls’ singles play, Greenwood’s Bella King lost her first-round match to Brenna Townley of Lakeside High School, 1-6, 3-6. In boys’ singles action, the Bulldogs’ J.J. Acosta fell to Michael Homsi of Pulaski Academy, 4-6, 1-6. In girls’ doubles play, the GHS duo of Harper Berg and Lydiah Belue won their opening round match over Audrey Rose and Mylie Collins of Little Rock Christian, 6-1, 7-6. They then lost to Kaylee Berry and Bella Seeman of Valley View, 1-6, 0-6.
In remarks after the state tournament, Coach Pearcy summed up the 2023 tennis campaign. “It was a great season,” he said. “We sent more kids to the state tournament than we have the last couple of years. I'm proud of the achievements of our athletes on both the boys’ and girls’ sides. The seniors did a fantastic job of leading, on and off the courts, and preserving the culture within the program.”
Pearcy will lose three senior boys to graduation, two of which were major contributors this past season. J.J. Acosta, Jamie Chang, and Kaleb Marsico are all leaving the program. But the losses will be greater for the Lady Bulldogs with seven seniors due to graduate, including Lydiah Belue, Bella King, Ema Wirth, Averi Abbott, Bailey Abbott, Maleah Cole, and Claire Roberts. Younger players will have to step up to fill those shoes in 2024.