The winner's adjustments proved unnecessary in a sense, but they drew praise from all involved nonetheless.
A week after Bentonville freshman Ella Coleman's straight-set loss to Mount St. Mary senior Presley Southerland in the Class 6A girls state tennis singles final, Coleman used a new approach to take a 6-3, 3-0 lead on Southerland before back pain forced Southerland to retire from the girls singles final of the Overall state tennis tournament at Burns Park in North Little Rock on Tuesday.
At a glance
GIRLS OVERALL TENNIS
at Burns Park, North Litlte Rock
Ella Coleman, Bentonville, def. Jenna Payne, Jonesboro, 6-4, 6-3
Presley Southerland, Mount St. Mary, def. Cydney Rogers, Valley View, 6-2 6-1
Ella Coleman def. Presley Southerland, retired 6-3, 3-0
Jenna Bohnert/Grace Lueders, Rogers, def. MC Cowen/Isabella Calhoun, Hot Springs Lakeside, 6-0, 6-1
Sarah Schneringer/Kristyn Tappana, Bentonville West, def. Sarah Godfrey/Macie Heide, Mountain Home, 6-3, 6-1
Jenna Bohnert/Grace Lueders def. Sarah Schneringer/Kristyn Tappana, 6-1, 7-5
Southerland won the Class 6A state singles championship with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Coleman in Springdale on Oct. 15. During the week between matches, Coleman worked with Bentonville Coach Emily Dillard on techniques and to add a slice to her shots to draw Southerland away from the baseline.
"After playing her at state, I knew I couldn't just rally from the baseline," Coleman said. "I had to switch up my shots, so I worked on my slices and getting it deeper."
"She did really well changing it up a lot," Southerland said. "She definitely changed her game from the first time I played her, and that was really smart."
Dillard complimented Coleman's skill level.
"We worked on a game plan," Dillard said. "[Southerland] is a strong player at the baseline. She moves very well laterally. Our goal going in was to pull her up and bring her back and to hit some short angles.
"Ella executed really well. I can't take the credit for that."
Southerland injured her lower back as a freshman early in the 2016 high school season, completed with her 6-3, 6-3 Overall final loss to Brooke Killingworth of Bentonville, and her back has troubled her for the past three years. In her rematch with Coleman, she said her discomfort kept increasing until it became unbearable.
"After the first set, it just kept going downhill," Southerland said. "It was OK in the first set, but toward the end, it just wasn't going good."
Coleman said Southerland battled through each game, a quality she recognized in their first match.
"She's a fighter, and I respect that," Coleman said.
Southerland said she was impressed by Coleman.
"She's a great player," Southerland said.
In doubles, the team of Jenna Bohnert and Grace Lueders of Rogers defeated Sarah Schneringer and Kristyn Tappana of Bentonville West 6-1, 7-5.
Bentonville freshman Ella Coleman, who lost to Presley Southerland in the Class 6A girls state tennis singles final, worked on techniques and added a slice to her shots to draw Southerland away from the baseline.
Sports on 10/23/2019