Players hit courts in force for Pawhuska’s net squads

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

A rejuvenated Pawhuska High School tennis program recently wrapped up its competitive season with respectable showings in Class 4A Regionals held at the Grand Racket Club in south Tulsa.

At least 20 PHS students reporting for practices this spring, as local net coaching duties were turned over Jodi Culver.

On May 2, the Lady Huskie squad was led on to the courts at the Regional by cerebral senior singles entries Stephanie Clifton and Karissa Hughes — the recently-announced salutatorian and valedictorian for the PHS Class of 2016. Competing in doubles was the sophomore duo of Sierra Sellers and Sidney Walker, and sophomore Rayven Stone with freshman Allison Richardson.

Each of Pawhuska’s entries finished fifth at the Regional, which was one place short of what was needed for advancing to the state tourney.

A similar fate awaited the Huskies’ squad that took part in a Tulsa Regional on Tuesday, May 10. (The Regional had been set for Monday, May 9, but was postponed a day, due to rain.) Senior J.R. Young and junior Nathan Richardson made up one PHS doubles team, with junior Mattheu Rector and sophomore Devynn Mathes forming the other. Senior Lance Harden also competed for the Huskie netters.

At an April tournament in Perry, Clifton placed fifth in the girls’ No. 1 singles bracket, while Mathes was fifth in No. 2 boys’ singles competition. Pawhuska’s top finish at Perry was in the boys’ No. 1 doubles category, where Young and Richardson placed third.

Later in April, both PHS squads recorded shutout wins in a dual match versus Cleveland. Clifton and Hughes formed the No. 1 doubles pairing for the Lady Huskies.

Culver said she was surprised by this year’s large turnout of players for tennis.

“I think it’s a sport that can be built up here,” said Culver. “Plus, it’s something they can continue playing over the summer.”

The coach added that the net on one of the three school courts is in serious need of repairs. Additionally, all three have surfaces that are well worn.