Mohawk Tennis Teams Back to State
The Piggott Mohawk tennis teams hosted the 3A-2 district tournament on Thursday, Oct. 6, with matches played at Allen Park in Jonesboro. This season has been a tough one for the perrinial state qualifiers, although the Tribe will be represented at the upcoming 3A state tournament in North Little Rock by members of both the boys and girls teams.
Coming off last year's state runner-up finish, and back-to-back district championships, the Lady Mohawks saw a number of key players graduate in the spring. So, for long-time Coach Paul Seegraves, expectations were not as high for this year's squad.
"There were 19 girls that signed up to play, but only four of them showed up for the first day of practice. And, it got worse because two of them quit," Seegraves said of the early-season struggles. "For the first time in my coaching career, numbers were an issue for girl's tennis."
In response, Seegraves notes he was forced to recruit prospects from the girl's P.E. class, the hallway and through school announcements.
"Slowly, throughout the season the team grew to seven players, and to have a complete team you need six," he added. "Honestly, I didn't think we would win a team match before the season started. Considering the odds our team was facing, we finished the season with a storybook finish."
Despite a tough schedule, which included some stout new conference members, the girls squad finished as the district runner-ups with a record of 12-9-3.
In last week's district tournament the Lady Rebels of Riverside won the title with 13 points, followed by the Lady Mohawks with 9, Corning and Harding Academy with 6 each, Cedar Ridge with 1 point and Newport and Walnut Ridge with 0.
The Lady Mohawks did have an ace-in-the hole in Emilee Seegraves in the singles bracket, as she earned the top-seed and a bye in the first round. In the second round she beat Allison Landreth, of Corning 6-0 and 6-0 to advance to the semi-finals. In the next round she beat Jasie Mason, of Harding Academy, 6-1 and 6-0 to advance. The win over Mason was a milestone for Seegraves, as she broke the record for most matches won in a career, which was previously held by Hillary French with 77 wins from 2005 to 2008.
In the championship match Seegraves defeated second-seeded Rachel Story, of Harding Academy, 6-3 and 6-2, to earn her third straight district championship.
The victory also earns Seegraves her third straight appearance in the 3A state tennis tournament, being held Oct. 17 and 18, at Burns Park in North Little Rock.
Alex McDaniel also competed in singles play at district, beating Jacey Poplawski, of Newport, 6-0 and 6-0 in the first round. But, she dropped her second round match to Rachel Story, 0-6 and 0-6.
The team of Kourtney Chadwell and Sophi Adams advanced into the second round at Jonesboro, beating Caitlyn Mueller and Bessie Hatfield, of Newport, 6-0 and 6-0. In the second round they fell to Caitlyn Carpenter and Alea Davis of Corning 1-6 and 0-6 and were eliminated. The other Lady Mohawk doubles team, Erin Dixon and McCaleh Foulk, dropped their match with Kailee Gooch and Kinley Wood, of Cedar Ridge, 1-6 and 2-6.
After graduating a highly decorated senior class--which produced three team district championships, a district runner-up, a state championship and three third-place state finishes--expectations weren't as high for this year's edition either.
"Most of the 10 boys we had played with little to no experience," Seegraves said of the squad. "This team also exceeded my expectations by finishing third in the district and posting a record of 13-8-3."
To no surprise, Riverside took this year's district with 15 points, after moving up to 3A after winning three straight state championships in the 2A ranks the past three seasons. "And, with six very strong seniors, they look poised to try to win the 3A state tournement this year," Seegraves added.
The district runner-ups were Harding Academy with 9 points, while the Mohawks followed with 2, Corning and Newport had 1 point each and Cedar Ridge and Walnut Ridge were shut-out.
Both of the Mohawk singles players were eliminated in the early rounds, with team captain Caleb Higgins dropping his match to the eventual third place finisher, Hunter Rand of Riverside, 0-6 and 0-6. Meanwhile, Andy Risner lost to the second seeded singles player, and last year's third place finisher at state, John David Stewart 0-6 and 0-6.
The top-seeded doubles team of Josh Lyman and Carrington McDaniel received a bye in the first round of the district tourney. In the second round they beat Ben Moore and Mason Laferney, of Harding Academy, 6-4, 1-6 and 6-4. In semi-final play the Mohawks would lose to the second-seeds, and last year's 2A state doubles runner-ups, Braden Overman and Zach Poe of Riverside 1-6 and 3-6.
In the third place match, Lyman and McDaniel fell to Reid Pace and Hayden Bailey, of Harding Academy, 6-8. But, with the top-four finish, the Mohawk doubles team also qualifies for the state tournament at NLR.
The other PHS boys doubles team, Cooper Harris and Michael Palmer, also received a bye in the first round. In the second round of play they fell to Pace and Bailey, of Harding Academy, 4-6 and 2-6.