Mia Kent and Cullen McDonough reigned again at the MHSAA Class 5A tennis individual championships.
The Ridgeland High sophomores repeated as champions, with Kent winning her second straight girls singles title and McDonough doing the same in boys.
But this one was a little bittersweet for McDonough, who will be transferring to the Mississippi School for Math and Science in the fall.
“It’s been fun with both of us being being at the top two years in a row,” said McDonough. “I wish I could stay and try to make it four years in a row with her. I really like this team. It’s sad to leave, but I’m ready. I have always liked math and science, and it is a good opportunity for me.”
McDonough won his final match as a Titan with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Oxford’s Quinn Elliott. McDonough also beat Elliott in last year’s finals.
“It was extremely tough, and it could’ve gone either way,” said McDonough. “It was pressure because I wanted to bring pride to my school.”
McDonough defeated Neshoba Central’s Caleb Johnson, Pascagoula’s Stone Garlich and Gautier’s Dylan Hults in the first three rounds of the tournament.
“We are going to miss him tremendously,” said Ridgeland coach Roderick Davidson, who doubles as the school’s boys basketball coach. “Not only is Cullen a great kid on the tennis court, but he is a great kid in the classroom. It’s an honor for him to get to go to the Mississippi School for Math and Science School and start pursuing his career in engineering.”
While McDonough departs, Kent will return in pursuit of her third state title next season.
She defeated Oxford’s Grace Anne Jones 6-3, 6-0 in the finals.
“I was really nervous because a lot of people didn’t think I could do it again so I wanted to prove them wrong,” said Kent.
Kent beat Neshoba’s Allison Johnson, East Central’s Sara Henne and Brookhaven’s Madison Currie in the first three rounds. She lost only one match all season.
“Mia has gotten a whole lot stronger,” said Davidson. “She didn’t lose a match at all last year. She lost one this year to Madison Central, and that just motivated her from that point on. She has some swagger about herself, and that loss really pushed her. She practiced so hard the last two months after that loss getting mentally and physically ready, and it showed in this tournament.”
St. Andrew’s seventh grader Larry Qu won the boys singles title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nettleton’s Hayden Lee.
Peryn Reeves-Darby of St. Anrew’s won the girls title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Winona’s Laura Vanhorn.
St. Andrew’s, which claimed its 11th straight team title on Tuesday, also won championships in all three doubles events.
Chris Wilkins of Sacred Heart repeated as boys champion, and Sarah Williams of Resurrection won the girls title.