The Lady Raider tennis season provided plenty of highlights, but ended sooner than hoped.
Madison County (14-4) fell to Region 7-AAAA representative Sequoyah Thursday, 3-2, in the first round of the state tournament, losing both doubles spots and at no. 3 singles.
“Our girls played with a lot of emotion and determination,” coach Keith Strickland said. “The three matches we lost could have gone either way. It was just a matter of winning the right points at the right time.”
No. 1 singles player Molly Smith overcame illness to win 7-5, 6-4 in her final high school match.
“True to her pre-match reminder to the girls, she fought through even when she was behind, especially in the first set — I appreciated her leadership,” Strickland said.
No. 2 singles player Jeannie Bowen saved some of her best tennis for last, winning 6-2, 6-3.
“She started very strong and did not let up,” Strickland said. “The opposing coach was very complimentary of her play and stated that she had to be the best no. 2 singles player that his girl has ever faced.”
Audra Minish, however, lost a tough match at no. 3 singles, and both doubles teams fell in straight sets as Madison County was denied a trip to the Sweet 16.
Strickland praised Minish’s play in the loss. The freshman dropped her first set 6-0, but rebounded with a 6-4 win in the next set. Minish’s third set was interrupted by lighting and thunderstorm warnings. When play resumed, she fell 6-3.
“I could not have asked for more out of a freshman player than what Audra Minish gave us,” Strickland said.
As for the program’s seniors, they ended their careers with three north sub-region championships, four trips to the region finals, one region championship, four state tournament berths and three trips to the state Sweet 16.