Benton qualifies 3 for state, chance for more

Benton sophomore Alex Trudell competes in the 6A West Tournament Monday at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock. Trudell won both of her matches on Monday to advance to today's semifinals. Trudell has already qualified for state. TONY LENAHAN/The Saline CourierBenton junior Sadie Nosal competes in the 6A West Tournament Monday at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock. Nosal won her first match on Monday before falling in a close one in her second. If Nosal wins her match today, she qualifies for the 6A State Tournament. TONY LENAHAN/The Saline CourierBenton junior Dawson Ramsey competes in the 6A West Tournament Monday at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock. Ramsey, with doubles' partner junior Mason Hart, qualified for the 6A State Tournament and play in the semifinals today. TONY LENAHAN/The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

The Benton Panthers tennis team advance 6 of 8 past the first round of the 6A West Conference Tournament Monday held at the Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock and would advance two into today’s semifinals portion.
“I was overjoyed with the fact out of eight courts, we had six that were able to come back and compete today,” Benton Coach Melanie Kiker said.
In girls singles, sophomore Alex Trudell, the No. 3 seed, downed Sheridan’s Victoria Bustamante 6-0, 6-0 in the first round before having more of a challenge against Greenwood’s No.6 seed Lindsey Gillis in the quarterfinals. Trudell won 6-2 in the first set, before Gillis responded with a 6-4 win, but Trudell dominated the third set 6-0 to advance to play El Dorado’s No. 2 seed Macy Barker this morning, and qualified for the state tournament with her second-round victory.
Also in girls’ singles action, junior No. 5 seed Sadie Nosal beat Russellville 12 seed Abigail Molitor 6-3, 6-4 before El Dorado 5 seed Alexis Downum defeated Nosal 6-4, 6-3 in the second round. Nosal has a chance at state today when she plays Lake Hamilton 8 seed Jovanna Cetnik. A Nosal win advances her to state.
“She played her better than she ever played her,” Kiker said of Nosal vs. Downum.
In boys’ doubles, juniors Mason Hart and Dawson Ramsey did what they’ve been doing all year – win. The No. 1 seed Benton duo remained undefeated on the season shutting out No. 16 seed Sheridan 6-0, 6-0 before handling El Dorado 8 seed Hall and Brooks 6-1, 6-0 to advance to today’s semifinals vs. No. 4 seed Greenwood. The duo also advanced to state with the quarterfinal victory.
“Two are guaranteed a state bid,” Benton Coach Melanie Kiker said. “Alex, Dawson and Mason have a state bid no matter what.”
Undefeated before the West Tourney, juniors Henry Bethel and Will Guerra, the 6 seed boys doubles, fell in a very close match to Sheridan’s No. 1 Hicks and Domrase. Bethel and Guerra fell 5-7 in the first set and won 6-2 in the second before falling in a tiebreak in the third, 6-8, to end their season.
“I was really sad Henry and Wes lost,” Kiker said. “I was really hoping they (Bethel/Guerra and Hart/Ramsey) would meet each other in the final.
“I really should have played Henry and Wes more at No. 1 so they could have gotten experience of playing some of those No. 1 seeds. They ran undefeated against all their No. 2s, but we have no idea how they would have done if I would have played some higher level people. I told them that was my fault. New-coach learning curve for me.”
In boys singles play, senior Micaiah Temple, the 4 seed, defeated El Dolrado’s Ricker 7-2, 6-4 in the first round before falling to Greenwood No. 5 seed Kenny Sweeny 6-2, 6-3 in the second round. Temple will play Texarkana’s Blaine Martin, the 8th seed, today for a chance at state.
Also in boys singles, No. 10 seed junior Zac Van Cleave won his first-round match, upsetting Russellville 7 seed Walker Payne 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, but would be shut out in the second round 6-0, 6-0 by Greenwood No. 2 seed David Woodring. Van Cleave plays today against Russellville No. 14 Brett Dale for a shot at state.
“We’re hopeful Zac and Micaiah, in the conso(lation bracket), if they win today, they get to go to state,” Kiker said. “If they both win, they get to play each other this afternoon, which will be entertaining to say the least.”
In girls doubles, junior Alexis Boyd and senior Kiana McAdoo (7th seed) advanced past the first round, defeating Texarkana’s No. 10 seed 6-4, 6-2, before losing 6-0, 6-4 to No. 2 seed Greenwood in the second round. Boyd and McAdoo will play No. 8 seed Lake Hamilton today for a shot at state.
Benton duo juniors Paige Markel and Jenna Medders, though seeded 13th, gave the No. 4 seed Greenwood squad a match as Markle and Medders forced a tiebreak in the first set, falling 7-5, before losing 6-3 in the second set to end their year.
“I don’t know what the previous records are for years past, but last year we only took one kid to state,” Kiker said. “This year, we’re taking at least three. Hopefully, we take more.
“I told the kids I want to take the short bus next week. I don’t want to be able to take the suburban. I want 10 so we can take the big vehicle. We’re ecstatic.”