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Tennis: Van Buren advances four to state

Van Buren is sending four tennis players to next week’s state tournament after competing at the 7A West Conference meet.

Braydon Montgomery earned All-State and All-Conference honors as he picked up the No. 4 for the 7A State tournament at Heritage on Oct. 21-22.

Houston Holderfield, Brett Dunn and Karlee Hart also earned all-conference honors and will compete at the state tournament.

In the third-place match, Montgomery dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Cory Stewart (Springdale).

Montgomery lost the semifinal match to Bentonville’s Andrew Miller, the No. 2 seed for the tournament, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

“Cory and Braydon are good friends and play close matches at all times,” said Van Buren coach Brandy Mosby. “It was a good match with lots of solid points, good line calls with compliments from parents and players from the opposing team — basically, the way a tennis match should be.”

Montgomery began the tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Dylan Trichell (Har-Ber) and Will McCombs (Fayetteville) 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

Hart faced Haleigh Long, Rogers No. 1 singles player, in the fifth-place match, but Long came out on top 6-0, 6-2. Previously, Hart defeated Fayetteville’s No. 1 player, in a nearly three-hour match 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4).

“This was a major battle, and I thought I was going to have to carry both girls off the court,” said Mosby. “They were exhausted and I thought I was going to have to carry both girls off of the court.”

Hart began the conference tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Merscedez Ruiz (Springdale) and a loss to the top seed and returning state champion, Alye Darter (Heritage) 6-1, 6-0. Mosby said that Hart was “pretty excited” to win a set against Darter, who hasn’t lost one all season.

Houston Holderfield/Brett Dunn both reached the state tournament for the first time after posting two wins in the doubles competition. Holderfield/Dunn, seeded No. 11, upset the No. 6 seed from Heritage at the start of the tournament, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

“They were unstoppable for their first three matches. Their serves, groundstrokes, volleys, overheads, and dropshots were just awesome,” said Mosby.

Holderfield/Dunn dropped their second round match, 4-6, 5-7, before bouncing back in the second day to post a 6-4, 6-3 win over a Rogers duo.

Holderfield/Dunn lost their final match to Rogers’ No. 1 doubles team.

“It had been a long two days, and these two boys had played better than they had played all season,” Mosby said. “They only had half a season to start playing doubles together, so I was not disappointed in them.”

Other matches

Brittney Yeamons lost her opening-match to Daniella Allen (Fayetteville). Yeamons missed the chance to reach the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

“Even though this was a tough loss in so many ways, she has had an awesome 4-year run as a Pointer tennis player,” said Mosby. “Brittney loves this game, and tennis will always be a part of her, no matter what. She has a lot to be proud of, and that is what matters.”

Prisilla Grande/Katja Wiederkehr also lost their opening match of the tournament.

“Prisilla’s serves were awesome, but they just couldn’t put together a compelte match,” said Mosby. “Prisilla (a senior) will also be greatly missed. These girls have really become a great team this year.”

MaKayla Trentham/Allison Lemley defeated the No. 1 doubles team from Heritage 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3). Trentham/Lemley then lost a match to the Tang sisters from Rogers, the two-time state champions, 6-2, 6-0. The duo also dropped their consolation match on Thursday.

“Allison is only a freshman, so she will have three more years of opportunity with lots of potential,” Mosby said. “MaKayla is a senior, and as much as I hate it for her, I was so proud to see her walk off the court with her head held high and a smile on her face. She played hard and went further each and every year. She played a game she loved, and she had a great partner.”

Andy Turner won his first set, but Derek Groomer (Heritage) rallied back to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

“Andy played really well and took every chance to hit at (Groomer’s) backhand,” Mosby said. “Andy is our team captain and another senior. He’ll be greatly missed next year.”

Houston Anderson/Kyle Porter emerged as Van Buren’s No. 1 doubles team, dropped their first match of the tournament 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

It was the first season for Porter, a freshman, and Anderson, a junior, to compete as a doubles team.

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