The GHS girls’ tennis team traveled to Russellville the last week of September to compete in the 5A West Conference tournament, and came away with the championship trophy. Matches were played at both Russellville High School and Arkansas Tech University.
Junior Madie Pelt and senior Katelyn Bailey were eliminated in the early going, but the other doubles team of seniors Karli Fisher and Leighton Haralson reached the finals. The duo were undefeated this year and Head Coach Ken Hamilton gave them high praise.
“Both are very good athletes,” he said. “You can tell by watching them move around the court. These two girls really got it together for this tournament and played their best to help give Greenwood the conference title.” They defeated Vilonia in the finals in straight sets to win the doubles championship.
Greenwood’s top singles players, juniors Olivia Gaston and Abigail Woodring, were also both unbeaten on the season and both made it to the singles conference championship, where they had to face each other.
Gaston won the match in two sets, but both played very well said Hamilton. "If you watch these two warm up you will know how close they are in ability. Both have very good serves and excellent strokes.
“Olivia has beaten Abigail on previous occasions and her advantage is mainly a mental one. As far as we are concerned, they both are winners and helped lead their teammates to the championship.
“They both contributed to the win. It's sad one [of them] had to lose, but it’s a good feeling to watch two Greenwood players battle it out for the singles championship,” said Hamilton.
Having Gaston and Woodring in the finals solidified the overall first place for the Lady Bulldogs as they won the conference championship with 18 points, far ahead of the second place team with seven points. Points were awarded for each round won in the tournament.
Gaston, Woodring, Fisher, and Haralson all traveled to Hot Springs earlier this week for the girls’ state tournament, October 8-9. Gaston has reached the state finals in singles play each of the last two years, but results were not available at press time.
The GHS boys were competitive in the conference tournament, finishing third overall. The doubles team of Auston Shown and Jonathan Mitchell reached the finals before losing.
Singles players Kenny Sweeney, a senior, and sophomore Zackery Beshears fell in two hard-fought court battles. Both players got past the first round, but lost in the second round to higher seeds.
"They played as hard as they could, but just came up short against better tennis players this time,” said Coach Hamilton of the pair. His Bulldogs have been handicapped all season with just six players on the roster.
Senior Jack Gaston and sophomore Micah Belue also lost in the second round to a higher seeded team, but Shown and Mitchell made it all the way to the finals. They won one set, but fell short of the championship. However, their deep run helped the team earn third place honors.
"Both our doubles teams played as hard as they could. A single point here or there can make a difference in a close match, and that’s what happened to them,” said Hamilton. “I am extremely proud of how hard all of them competed in the tournament," he added.
Shown and Mitchell also competed in Hot Springs earlier this week in the state tournament.