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RFM tennis team suprises

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By Susie Morris

The Robert F. Munroe tennis team lost three starters to graduation last season and were not expecting a strong 2010 showing.

But the return of Hilary Flournoy, a ninth grader who plays the tennis circuit, was huge.  Flournoy stepped into the No. 1 slot previously held for 5 years by Meg Summerford.  Flournoy’s return combined with an already strong Beth Summerford, the improvement of senior Abby Lewis, and the hard work of underclassmen Cameron McMullen, Rachel Wilkerson and Audrey Thomas, propelled the team into the Class A District finals Wednesday.

Flournoy (No. 1), Summerford (No. 2), Lewis (No. 3) and Wilkerson (No. 5), plus the doubles team of Flournoy and Summerford (No. 1) earned a spot in the finals Wednesday based on strong performances on Tuesday. Flournoy lost 6-2, 6-1, Lewis lost 6-0, 6-1, and Wilkerson, 6-0, 6-2.  

The singles match of the day belong to Summerford and Maclay’s Morgan Wilkins.  Summerford and Wilkins played a marathon match that lasted over 2 hours that was filled with numerous long volleys, baseball lobs and strong baseline shots.  Summerford lost the first match 7-6 (7-3) but rallied in the second match to win 6-4, thus forcing a tiebreaker.  A double-fault by Summerford to open the match led a downward slump that found the blonde sophomore on the wrong end of a 6-2 loss in the third match.

After a brief rest, Summerford and  doubles partner, Hilary Flournoy, got back to the court to pursue the doubles title. Three hours and 44 games later Maclay left the court with the win but Summerford and Flournoy left with their heads held high.  Scores for the marathon nailbiter were 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, 7-5.  

“I was extremely impressed with the play of both Hilary and Beth. As a No. 1 doubles team, they have proved that they can compete with any doubles team in the Panhandle.  A couple of points here or there and the match was theirs and they would have moved on to state.  As a coach, the future looks bright for Munroe tennis considering this duo is composed of a freshman and a sophomore,” Coach Carolyn Summerford said.

The team traveled to Pensacola for Region 1 quarterfinals on Tuesday to take on District 1-A champions, Pensacola Catholic.   A win on Tuesday would mean a rematch against Maclay on Thursday.