May 6, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Zachary Patterson and Adam Powers thought everything was going just fine.
Up a set and leading 3-0 in the second set, Patterson and Powers felt confident about their chances to repeat as Class 3A No. 1 doubles champions.
But an old kick serve called momentum turned against them.
Corinth''s Austin McElwain and Charlie Curtis rallied to win the second set and forced Patterson and Powers to regroup.
The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science duo used the 10-minute break between sets to analyze their mistakes and to formulate a game plan that would help them rally.
Patterson and Powers must have used the wisely because they overcame a back-and-forth final set that was full of breaks of serve to post a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory in Jackson.
The victory secured a second consecutive state title for the Patterson, who will attend John''s Hopkins in the fall, and Powers, who will go to Mississippi State.
"Going into the season I was thinking about maybe playing singles this year," Patterson said. "Ultimately I thought it would mean more to me try to defend our title, so I chose to defend title with Adam and I am really glad I did. (Winning state two years in a row with the same guy) is not something a lot of people get to do. It made it really special because we wanted it really badly."
Patterson and Powers beat a team from Newton County 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals in the morning. They won their match so quickly that they had a chance to scout McElwain and Curtis, a team they hadn''t played in the regular season.
Patterson has the same tennis coach as McElwain, so he already was familiar with one half of the other team. Watching their opponents'' semifinal victory, they quickly learned that the Corinth team would try to use a serve-and-volley game to control the net and dictate the tempo of the match.
Their plan nearly worked.
But Patterson and Powers returned serve well enough to keep their opponents back at the baseline. They also played nearly error-free tennis in the third set to repeat as champions.
"We tried to hit passing shots at their feet or to lob over them or to take the net before they didm" Patterson said. "We did well to take the net away and didn''t allow them to get into their comfort zones."
Patterson and Powers led 5-4 in the deciding set and broke Curtis'' serve to win the match. Both players said the double fault didn''t reflect the high level of tennis both teams played.
"They played excellent against us," Powers said. "The third set by far was the best."
Powers said he expected the match to be over sooner. But he said he and Patterson had to regroup after letting a 3-0 lead slip away. He said they used the break to get their heads back into the match.
"We are both seniors so we had to do this," Powers said. "It was a mental thing. We had to do it for ourselves."
Powers, who will try to walk on to the MSU men''s tennis team in the fall, said he and Patterson eliminated mistakes in the third set and returned serve well to accomplish the gaol they both set at the beginning of the season.
"We played a lot harder because we really wanted to win," Powers said. "In the third set I told myself I really needed to play my heart out because we really need to win this."
Powers said he plans to play competitive club tennis at MSU if he doesn''t make the varsity team.
Patterson will try to play tennis on the men''s team at John''s Hopkins. The Division III school doesn''t give athletic scholarships.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.