High School Sports

Continuing the dynasty: Ocean Springs looking for 7th state tennis title

COURTESY SHELBY GUIDRY/OSHS YEARBOOKOcean Springs will face Madison Central in the Class 6A championship Monday in Jackson. Members of the team include: Coach Margaret Morgan, Meghan Nguyen, Amber Welch, Isabella Rubenstein, Abby Chapman, Amanda Kilduff, Victoria Vice, Rachel Broom, Olivia Nash, Sophia St. Amant, coach Kathy Gendron, Samuel Edmonson, Michael Phillips, Lukas Wicht, Brady Batia, Adam St. Amant, Slay Wagoner, William Evans, Cole Wagoner, Andrew Bowie and Beck Guidry.
COURTESY SHELBY GUIDRY/OSHS YEARBOOKOcean Springs will face Madison Central in the Class 6A championship Monday in Jackson. Members of the team include: Coach Margaret Morgan, Meghan Nguyen, Amber Welch, Isabella Rubenstein, Abby Chapman, Amanda Kilduff, Victoria Vice, Rachel Broom, Olivia Nash, Sophia St. Amant, coach Kathy Gendron, Samuel Edmonson, Michael Phillips, Lukas Wicht, Brady Batia, Adam St. Amant, Slay Wagoner, William Evans, Cole Wagoner, Andrew Bowie and Beck Guidry.

There's been a lot of rinse and repeat over the last half decade for the Ocean Springs tennis team.

Six titles into their Class 6A dynasty and the Greyhounds don't show any signs of slowing. Ocean Springs has won with veteran-laden teams and young squads.

The 2016 version will have a mixture of both. OSHS has four senior girls on the team. It also has four sophomore boys. The catch is those boys aren't inexperienced as they were put through the fire a year ago and came out as 6A champs.

"I feel like once you have won a championship you're used to that battle and pushing through," OSHS coach Kathy Gendron said. "That kind of gives us an edge, but then again, so many nerves come into play and with the younger players and that scares me."

The Greyhounds will put their streak on the line Monday with a 9 a.m. match against Madison Central at Parham Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson.

"I think it's going to be a tough match," Gendron said. "Madison Central has some very strong players, one of which used to be our player, Kyle Anderson."

Although her boys are still largely underclassmen, Gendron said they've come a long way since last season and could be a key to Monday's competition.

"The boys really stepped it up from last year to win state. This year we're still having to work hard because they're only 10th graders," Gendron said. "They got that experience plus this summer and season to improve more."

No matter how many championship rings are clanking on Gendron's hands, there's always a level of anxiousness before the big title match.

This year is no different.

"I never take it for granted even though I feel like we're strong," she said. "It comes down to the positioning of their team versus my team. There's a lot of scouting involved and trying to out-smart (the other coach).

"A lot of nerves come into play. A lot of times in the state championship, it comes down to a 4-3 win. It's very stressful to say the least."

South State dynasty

Like Ocean Springs, Stone High has a dynasty of its own. The Tomcats have won six straight Class 5A South State titles. The only problem is every year they have run into Oxford -- winners of eight straight state championships.

The familiarity will be evident Monday at 9 a.m. when the two schools square off for a sixth straight year, but Stone coach Freddie Wegner doesn't think past results will infiltrate the team's psyche.

"Our kids know Oxford is good, but I don't think any of our kids are thinking we can't beat them," he said Wednesday. "They've been playing against them since they were in sixth or seventh grade.

"They know they're tough and have their respect, but it's not a psychological barrier."

Stone has beaten just about everyone that it has come across during its South State run -- except for Oxford. Wegner said Stone's best chance to top Oxford came four years ago.

"We lost 4-3. We were up on last point and the ball didn't bounce real well for a couple of shots," Wegner said. "The past two years they have shown us they're better than us. I'm hoping it's going to be more competitive this year and that we can pull out four points."

The Tomcats are an experienced squad, boasting nine seniors.

"That's the only thing they've ever known, to win South State. That's all," Wegner said. "(The experience) gave us the advantage over Brookhaven and Long Beach in the playoffs. We were physically stronger than some of the younger kids we were going up against."

All season, Stone (16-4) played a schedule with an eye toward yet another rematch in Jackson.

"We're going to have to have all of our players play their very best tennis on Monday at 9 a.m. If we play the best we'll have a shot at four points," Wegner said. "The lineup is something that I'm still debating in my mind, but he's doing the same."

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