JACKSONVILLE — Donoho winning tennis sectionals and going to state is nothing new. Going to state with prospects to come back with at least one title?
That’s a new-old feeling.
Donoho’s boys won their 1A-3A sectional Tuesday on Jacksonville State’s courts, giving the boys and girls a sweep. The girls won Monday.
The top two teams from sectional advance to state, and Faith Christian’s girls took second Monday. Sylvania’s boys advanced with Donoho on Tuesday.
Both Donoho programs have advanced to state at least four years in a row. The girls returned their entire team from the group that finished third a year ago, and four seniors lead the boys team, which looks to improve on its sixth-place finish.
“I’ve been lucky,” third-year Donoho coach Laurie Rigsby said. “I’ve had some good teams and tennis players, since I’ve been at Donoho.”
Donoho’s girls have won three AHSAA tennis titles, the last coming in 1981. The boys have never won a team state title.
It won’t hurt their prospects that some of their top competition from recent years moved up in classification. Montgomery Academy, Indian Springs and Altamont moved up. Those three schools accounted for the past eight boys state titles and eight of the past 10 girls titles.
American Christian also moved up.
Of the schools that bumped up to 4A-5A, Montgomery Academy and Altamont moved up because of the AHSAA’s new competitive-balance rule, which forces teams that accumulate enough points in a particular sport over a three-year span to move up in that sport.
Sacred Heart, for example, had to bump to 2A in basketball, after its boys put together a run of four consecutive state titles, including three that counted under the new rule.
“There will still be strong competition,” Rigsby said. “Bayside Academy is always good, and Decatur Heritage. There are some good teams to come from across this state.
“The whole team may not be, but there will be good players that we’ll have to come across.”
Donoho dominated at sectionals. The boys edged Sylvania 50-37, and the girls beat Faith 60-33.
Donoho’s girls won all six singles finals and two of three doubles finals. The Falcons’ boys made it to four of six singles finals and won three, and they made all three doubles finals, winning two.
Individual winners Tuesday included Donoho’s No. 1 singles player, Cooper Montgomery, who beat Sylvania’s Jared Higgins 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Harrison Han won in No. 2 singles, beating Faith’s Josh Goode 6-1, 7-5, and No. 3 singles player Gray Hanley beat Sylvania’s Mason Sanders 6-2, 6-3 in the final.
Montgomery-Hanley beat Higgins-Sanders 6-0, 6-1 in No. 1 doubles, and Han-Rhett Rigsby beat Faith’s Goode-Brodie Yarbrough in No. 2.
“It was a good day, and the team played really well,” Montgomery said. “My doubles partner, Gray, played really well, too.
“We had about five matches, six matches overall, so it’s been a long day.”
Montgomery has made the state semifinals in singles and doubles the past two years.
“We hope to win it this year,” he said. “All of the best teams moved up, and a lot of seniors graduated, so I think it’ll be a good year for everybody.”
As for Donoho’s girls, Emma Wiedmer, Claire Hillman, Virginia Hutto, Grace Draper, Claire Walker and Mary Marshall Perry won individual sectional titles Monday. Wiedmer-Hutto and Hillman-Draper won in doubles.
Faith’s girls reached six singles and doubles finals. Kristin Covington pushed her No. 3 singles final against Hutto to three sets, falling 6-4, 3-6, 1-6. The No. 1 doubles team of Zana and Sarah Jessica Christjohn pushed Wiedmer-Hutto to three sets, falling 6-4, 1-6, 4-6.
“They performed very well, fought hard in all of their matches,” Faith coach Robbie Yarbrough said. “They just do a really good job of pulling it together, even when they face adversity, so I’m very proud of them.”