White Oak’s Ian Story raced back to the baseline and returned a lob, then scrambled to the net and stretched his racquet for an unlikely winner.
He would’ve chased the ball all the way to Austin.
“He had me on the ropes running around,” Story said. “I knew the point was about to end.”
He made sure it did.
Story claimed his third straight boys singles title at the Class 2A Region III tennis tournament Thursday at the JoAnn Medlock Murphy Tennis Center. The senior beat Kountze’s Laramie Linn, 6-3, 6-3, in the championship match at Tyler Junior College.
Story, who also ousted Linn in straight sets in last year’s final, will compete in the UIL state tournament April 30-May 1 at the University of Texas’ Penick-Allison Courts in Austin. He fell in the semifinals to the eventual state champ — who’s since graduated — last season.
Story will be joined by four teammates at state. Tyler Keel and Collin McMullen claimed the regional title in boys doubles, while Donald Griffin and Shelby Stillwell captured the top spot in mixed doubles.
“I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of them,” White Oak coach Tammy Cloud said. “For them all to get first is awesome.”
The finalists from three events advanced to state, but playbacks were needed in girls singles and mixed doubles.
The girls singles title went to Nacogdoches Central Heights’ Anna Chaddick, who downed Centerville’s Carlee McEachern, 7-5, 6-2, in the final. McEachern eased past Quitman’s Elana Eiles, 6-2, 6-2, in the playback.
“I’m so excited,” said Chaddick, a junior. “I can’t believe it. This has been one of my goals for years and it’s finally done.”
Griffin and Stillwell beat Kountze’s Linn and Madison Read, 6-1, 7-5, in the mixed doubles final. Linn and Read then outlasted Kountze teammates Drew Anderson and Devan Mayer, 6-2, 6-4, in the playback.
Keel and McMullen rallied to beat Edgewood’s Casey De LaRosa and Josh Sharff, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, for the title in boys doubles.
Edgewood also earned a state berth in girls doubles, in which Kylie Douglas and Chandler Short topped Alba-Golden’s Laine Allred and Shelly Allred, 6-1, 6-0, in the championship match.
Story was one of the day’s biggest winners and is hoping to get his second state title this spring after helping the Roughnecks basketball team to one last month.
“It’s been great,” Story said. “God has blessed me with these great opportunities. I’m just giving the glory to him. Through hard work you can do anything.”
Story and the rest of the Roughnecks have put in the work necessary, Cloud said. It’s the third straight season that White Oak will be represented at state in three events.
“They were capable of doing it,” coach Cloud said. “They had to work hard to get to this point.”
Class 2A Region III Tennis Championships
At JoAnn Medlock Murphy Tennis Center, Tyler Junior College
Ian Story, White Oak, d. Fabian Reis, Troup, 6-4, 6-2; Laramie Linn, Kountze, d. Brian Williams, Daingerfield, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
Williams d. Reis, 6-3, 6-3.
Story d. Linn, 6-3, 6-3.
Anna Chaddick, Central Heights, d. Elana Eiles, Quitman, 6-2, 6-2; Carlee McEachern, Centerville, d. Hope Waldon, Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill, 7-5, 6-2.
Eiles d. Waldon, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Chaddick d. McEachern, 7-5, 6-2.
McEachern d. Eiles, 6-1, 6-2.
Tyler Keel-Collin McMullen, White Oak, d. Niles Brass-Alex Spencer, East Chambers, 6-2, 6-0; Casey De LaRosa-Josh Sharff, Edgewood, d. Nathan Aulbaugh-Jacob Blackshear, Warren, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Aulbaugh-Blackshear d. Brass-Spencer, 6-1, 7-5.
Keel-McMullen d. De LaRosa-Sharff, 6-4, 6-1.
Kylie Douglas-Chandler Short, Edgewood, d. Jenny Grissom-Kristen Swafford, Woodville, 6-3, 6-1; Laine Allred-Shelly Allred, Alba-Golden, d. Kelli Bradley-Kim Ledbetter, Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill, 6-1, 6-4.
Bradley-Ledbetter d. Grissm-Swafford, 6-1, 6-2.
Douglas-Short d. Allred-Allred, 6-1, 6-0.
Donald Griffin-Shelby Stillwell, 6-4, 6-3; Landry Linn-Madison Read, Kountze, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Anderson-Mayer d. Jennings-Ratzlaff, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Griffin-Stillwell d. Linn-Read, 6-1, 7-5.