Eagles cruise into state tourney looking to repeat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2006

A few days ago when Fort Dale Academy tennis coach Johnny Mac Brown was asked about the odds of his girls tennis team repeating as Class AAA Alabama Independent School Association champions, the veteran coach only shook his head and didn't say a word.

After a spirited practice sandwiched between two easy victories over Monroe and Crenshaw Christian academies, Brown likes his team's chances a little bit more.

The Lady Eagles closed out the season with back-to-back shutout victories on Tuesday and Thursday to warm up for the state tennis tournament, which begins Monday morning at the Lagoon Park Tennis Complex in Montgomery.

&#8220I feel a little better after (Wednesday's) practice,” Brown said. &#8220We need to have that intensity on Monday and Tuesday to have a shot.”

The only team that may stand in the way of Fort Dale repeating as AAA champs is the same team that handed the Eagles their only loss of the season.

&#8220I think right now Lee-Scott is a little more hungry than we are right now because they haven't won the title,” Brown said. &#8220Our girls have their rings, but they don't.”

Since the Eagles fell to Lee-Scott in March, they have been unstoppable. They have rolled off five straight wins with no problem.

No. 2 singles player Whitney Jacks was the only player to be tested by Monroe Academy player on Tuesday. Jacks won her 10-game pro-set match 10-6 over Ally Bishop.

Fort Dale No. 1 and No. 3 singles players Janie Mullins and Kayla Butts dropped just one game in their respective matches before taking the wins.

Meanwhile No. 4 and No. 5 singles players Elizabeth Dunklin and Renee Scott blanked their opponents.

&#8220The key to winning state is to peak at the right time,” Brown said. &#8220It doesn't matter what you've done at the first of the year, it all comes down to what you do at the end that counts.”

The Eagles closed out the shutout of Monroe Academy with the No. 1 doubles team of Mullins and Jacks topping Rachael Estes and Bishop 10-3. The No. 2 doubles duo of Butts and Dunklin had an easier time with Monroe's Jessica Pettis and Haley McKinley defeating them 10-2.

The state tournament opens with two matches for singles and doubles with the finals matches to be held Tuesday morning.

&#8220Those two days you've got to be focused,” Brown said. &#8220Last year we did just that and you see where we finished.”