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Russellville High School girls win section tournament to advance to state

The Russellville High School varsity tennis teams hosted the AHSAA Class 4A-5A Section 8 tournament, and the Lady Golden Tigers advanced to state with a dominating performance.

Teams from Russellville, Brooks, Central-Florence, Deshler, West Point and Wilson participated in the event, with the top two schools in both girls’ and boys’ team play advancing to the state tournament in Mobile.

The Russellville girls took the section title with a 52-36 team score over Wilson. RHS took finals wins in singles by No. 1 Peyton Parrish, No. 3 Sofia Tiffin, No. 4 Natalie Busler and No. 5 Roxanna Velez-Serna.

Russellville’s No. 2 Avary Miller and No. 6 Addie Strickland both advanced to the semifinals.

RHS took first place in doubles with wins by No. 2 Miller/Velez-Serna and No. 3 Busler/Strickland.

Wilson High School finished in first with a doubles victory over Russellville’s No. 1 duo of Parrish/Tiffin in the finals. Both Parrish and Tiffin are ninth-graders on the RHS squad.

Many thought 2021 would be a rebuilding year for Russellville after the graduation of a large number of key players from the past year’s team, but with hard work and the leadership of head coach Charlotte Dollar and assistant LeAnn Strickland, the Golden Tigers are headed back to state.

“We have just had exceptional development, and the kids have come on and have done a great job. I just couldn’t be prouder of them,” Dollar said.

In boys’ action, Deshler and Wilson tied for the top spot in team play, with both advancing to state. Russellville’s Kiah Derrick finished second in No. 1 singles to Deshler’s Luke Statom in a 6-0, 6-1 final.

In No. 1 doubles, Statom teamed with seventh-grader Everette Minshew to take first place. Minshew was also first in No. 2 singles to go undefeated in section tournament play.

The RHS team of Tino Soto and Ayden Boyd advanced to the No. 2 doubles final and fell to Wilson High. Russellville’s No. 2 Anthony Ruiz, No. 3 Tino Soto, No. 4 Ayden Boyd, No. 5 Bryan Ruiz and No. 6 Drew Strickland made it to the semifinals, as did the No. 1 doubles team of Kiah Derrick and Anthony Ruiz, along with the No. 3 duo of Bryan Ruiz and Drew Strickland.

“These kids worked hard, and we fought for every single point,” said Russellville head coach Ben Phillips. “We played some incredible tennis at times, and this area is really good.”