By Ronald Frazier
Katie Jones, competing in her third state AISA tennis championship, took home the first place trophy when she won the finals of the No. 1 position by defeating the defending state champion from Morgan Academy in three sets.
Now imagine how good her legacy will be when she starts high school next year at Glenwood. That’s because since the sixth grade, Jones has been a member of the girls’ varsity tennis team and became the No. 1 player last season.
Jones used almost the same formula as her semifinal win as she lost a tough first set to Ellie Adams, 6-4 before coming back strongly and winning the next two sets, 6-1-, 6-1.
“I was going to give everything I had out there and knew I had to try and keep fighting,” Jones said after the win.” I knew I needed to not get impatient and the sun came out and the temperature rose, it was going to be a battle.”
Jones was familiar with Adams as she played her during the regular season and remembered very distinctly the match, her only loss during the regular season.
“I lost 8-5 in a pro set,” reported Jones of her single regular season loss.
Jones has had two coaches in three years, first Brett Blevins, who recognized her talent and had her as the No. 4 singles player in the sixth grade. Jones remembers her previous two state performances also.
“I lost at No. 4 in three sets in the finals,” she said. “Then I lost in the semifinals the next year at No. 1.”
Now she has her first win and wants to lead by example.
“I know I am young but I have a responsibility to try as hard as I can and be the best player I can to show what we have.” Jones said.
Jones also gives Coach Julie Humphries a lot of credit for her positive attitude.
“She has experience and is always uplifting and knows how to keep you motivated to try your best and she communicates well also,” Jones said.
In the semifinals, Jones defeated Megan Bonhaus of Tuscaloosa Academy in three sets, losing the first and then winning the third set tiebreaker, 10-7. Elizabeth Cowden of Eastwood was Jones victim in the first round.
No other Glenwood girl or boys player made it to the finals as Jones was the lone Glenwood participant. In doubles, Jones and her partner Georgia Denzik won their first match over Springwood but lost to Adams and her partner in the semifinals.
In tournament action, No. 2 Ella Nelson, No. 3 Denzik, No. 4 Autumn McCain all lost in the first round. No. 5 Claire Mitchell won her first round versus Pike but lost in the semifinals to Tuscaloosa Academy. Nelson and McCain also lost their first round doubles in match.
On the boys’ team, only Will Haines got a first round win in singles as the No. 5 player won his first round over Lee Scott but lost in the second round to Tuscaloosa Academy.
Kincaid Foster, Breckyn Waller, Nick Thompson and Wyatt Wilkerson all lost in the first round and both boys doubles teams also lost in the first round.
“We are young on the boys’ side and they competed so now they know what it takes in the state tournament,” reported Humphries after the tournament was over.
Morgan Academy repeated as champions in team competition in both boys and girls while Tuscaloosa Academy was second in both categories.