HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State's men's tennis team has needed only one season to get back to the pinnacle of the Alabama Community College Conference.
The Lions outlasted Marion Military Institute in the men's ACCC/Region 22 tournament on Saturday at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Complex in Decatur, clinching the championship in the program's first campaign since 2004.
Wallace State's Cade Pressnell clinched the title for the Lions with a 6-3, 6-1 singles victory over Marion Military Institute's Isaiah Polk.
Clint Watson and Damon Calvert also earned singles victories for the Lions in Saturday's closing matches. Watson won 6-3, 6-1 over Marion Military's Barry Booth, and Calvert prevailed 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6 singles.
"I'm more proud of this team than any I've ever coached. Our men played well the entire tournament. We went into the final day tied with Marion Military Institute, and we knew we had to win three of four singles matches to win the title," said Wallace State tennis coach Tony Franklin, who joined the program after a lengthy high school career and as a tennis pro in Alexander City. "To win a championship in our first season is a huge accomplishment, and the team deserves all the credit for it. They've bought into what coach (Tim) Garner and I had planned for them, and they come prepared to practice and compete hard in every match. I knew from the first week of practice we had a good team and were capable of big things."
Wallace State had three duos pick up doubles victories (Pressnell and Calvert; Watson and Donny Camp and Toddric Stallworth and Luke Bowden).
Wallace State's men closed the regular season by winning three consecutive conference matches, topping Gadsden State, Faulkner State and Marion Military Institute.
The Lions carried the momentum into the ACCC/Region 22 tournament and capped the two-day event with a title.
"Even though we lost a few matches early in the season, we never lost confidence. We played a tough schedule, and it made us a better team. I could see us getting better and better, and we've walked on the court with a lot of confidence," Franklin said.
Wallace State reintroduced tennis to the athletics slate last fall after the programs were discontinued in 2004.
Wallace State's men now advance to the NJCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship in Plano, Texas, on May 15-19.
"We are looking forward to going to the national tournament and see how we stack up," Franklin said.
Hunter Manley, Check Freeman, Alex Carter and Jacob Lambert also make up the men's team. Tim Garner is the team's assistant coach.
Also in its first year since 2004, Wallace State's women's team finished fourth in Decatur.
Emily Graves and Kelsi Wilson earned singles victories for the Lady Lions.
Wallace State's women received strong contributions this season from Graves, Wilson, Tempie Ennis, Nicki Rakestraw, Molly Whitlock and Emily Wilson.
1- Cade Presnell WSH def Isaiah Polk MMI 6-3, 6-1
2- Clint Watson WSH def Barry Booth MMI 6-3,6-1
3- Andrew Carey MMI def Donny Camp WSH 6-2,6-0
4- Harry Foster MMI def Clint Brewer Gadsden 6-3,6-3
5- Garret Akridge Faulkner State def Joel Webster Gadsden 6-3,6-4
6- Damon Calvert WSH def Ross Kimble Faulkner State 6-4,6-1
1- Isaiah Polk/Barry Booth MMI def Clint Watson/Donny Camp WSH 8-3
2- Andrew Carey/Harry Foster MMI def Toddric Stallworth/ Luke Bowden WSH 8-1
3-Cade Presnell/Damon Calvert WSH def Ross Kimble/Garret Akridge Faulkner State 9-7
Wallace State - 11
MMI - 10
Faulkner State - 4
Gadsden - 2
ACCC Region Player of the Year
Cade Presnell - Wallace State
Region Coach of the Year
Tony Franklin - Wallace State