Raymond, Miss. – Northeast Mississippi Community College's men's tennis team got its 2014 campaign started on the right note last weekend with a victory against one of the best squads in the state.
The Tigers won at nationally ranked Hinds Community College 5-4 in their opening contest of the season on Friday.
Northeast set the tone early by winning two of the three doubles matchups. The second-ranked combination of Noah Wright and Wesley Tye downed Julian Johnson and Melvin McNair by an 8-5 decision.
Anderson Mills and Reid Price came through at the No. 3 spot with an 8-2 triumph against Austin Peavey and A.J. Walker.
The head-to-head competition was very evenly matched in singles play. Both teams picked up tiebreaker victories with No. 3 Aaron Gray of the Eagles beating Wright 5-7, 6-3, 10-7 and Northeast's Wesley Brandon edging Jonathan Bethea 6-1, 4-6, 10-5 at No. 4.
The Tigers clinched their fourth point when No. 5 Price cleanly defeated McNair 6-2, 6-2, but Hinds fought back to tie the game at 4-4 with a win by Peavey over Mills 6-4, 6-1.
But top-ranked Micah Page rebounded from a loss in doubles action to claim the matchup over the Eagles, who sit at No. 24 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) poll, with a nice 7-5, 6-4 outcome versus Devonte Thomas.
It was the initial triumph by Northeast (1-1) over a ranked program under the direction of second-year head coach Ben Shappley.
Shappley's Lady Tigers did not fare as well with an 8-1 loss to Hinds in their season lid lifter.
Nikki Baird captured Northeast's lone point of the afternoon when her opponent, Octavia Pendleton, was forced to retire due to injury.
Erica Whitten and Houston's Baird were involved in the best contest on the women's side in No. 2 doubles. The duo fought until the end, but dropped their lone set 8-6 to Reagan Chisolm and Jenneast Lofton.
(W) Co-Lin 7, Northeast 2; (M) Co-Lin 7, Northeast 2
The Lady Tigers and Tigers got swept by Copiah-Lincoln Community College to end their weekend road trip on Saturday in Wesson.
Price improved his individual record to 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 5 singles against Coleman Carraway.
Page and Brandon rebounded nicely from their No. 1 doubles loss in Raymond with an 8-1 decision over Dwain Perkins and Graham Watson.
Both of the remaining doubles contests were competitive with Brock Smith and Josh Smith getting past Wright and Tye 8-6. Brandon Nettles and Carrway also escaped with an 8-5 advantage versus Mills and Price.
Brandon took one on the chin in his first set against fourth-ranked Nettles 1-6. The Belmont native rallied though to force a tiebreak with a 7-5 second set.
But Nettles grabbed the point with a 10-7 mark in the 10-point tiebreaker round.
Allison Wiltshire and Whitten seized singles victories for the Lady Tigers (0-2). Wiltshire secured a 6-3, 6-4 win against Erika Dear in No. 5 singles while Whitten's 6-3, 6-3 score versus Savannah Brister at No. 3 accounted for the other Northeast point.
Northeast returns to the courts at nationally ranked Meridian Community College on Thursday, February 27 with a 1 p.m. start.