Shortened season nevertheless brings success for RHS tennis

When the 2020 spring sports season came to an abrupt end because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Russellville High School varsity tennis teams were on a roll.

Playing in Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A-5A Section 7, both the girls’ and boys’ teams were undefeated when competition was canceled for the remainder of the season. The two squads were looking forward to making another serious run in post-season play, with a return trip to Mobile and the AHSAA state tournament in their sights after they both advanced there in 2019.

The section tournament would have been held at the Russellville City Tennis Courts starting April 13, had the season not been suspended, and both the RHS varsity teams had wins over all of their section opponents already during the regular season.

The girls, led by head coach Charlotte Dollar, were 8-0 in 2020 with wins over Central-Florence, Fayette County, Brooks, West Point (2), Deshler, Wilson and 6A opponent Cullman.

Coach Ben Phillips, who was in his first year as leader of the boys’ team, had led his group to a 7-0 record against all section 7 schools, including a couple of team wins over West Point.

The RHS girls roster featured four seniors, with a trio of them having made state during each of their four years on the varsity team. Central Alabama Community College signees Anna Woods and Ellyse Strickland were joined by Kaydee Holland at state over the past few years, and Yesenia Vargas rounds out the senior roster.  Peyton Parrish, Natalie Busler and Avary Miller have also been quite successful on the court as Golden Tigers.

The boys’ varsity group was led by Gadsden State Community College signee, Ethan Howard. He was joined by fellow seniors Albaro Francisco, Samuel Franklin, Samuel Matias, Edvin Pereira and Joel Vargas.