EPC tennis teams once again finish high in state

Thursday, November 8, 2007
Members of the EPC tennis team are, from left: Front- Hailey Shankle, Candace Dorris, Stephanie Steakley, Sabrina Benton, Carla Kemp and Kelli Saddler. Back-Lando Bass, Chris Stover, Matt Powell, Ben Stover and coach Alan Bowman. (Photo provided)

Tribune Sports Staff

Perpetuating a tradition of tennis excellence forged by past Warrior teams, the EPC nets squads finished high in both district and state competitions at Harrison the week of Oct. 14.

"Over the years EPC tennis has had a great tradition and I'm happy to be a part of this group," said EPC tennis coach Alan Bowman. "I had a great group of kids to work with this year."

Lando Bass and Matt Powell headed the effort by winning the 3A state doubles boys' title after doing likewise in the 3A-3. The pair beat the Cave City team of Felts and Jones 7-5, 6-3 in the state finals. They were 3-1 against Felts and Jones for the year, beating them in the district final as well.

"To win a title of any kind in the arena of sports you have to have thoroughbreds. Lando and Matt are great all around athletes." continued Bowman. "Lando plays football, baseball and tennis. Matt plays baseball, basketball and tennis. These two juniors work well together on the court. They are both very hard workers and have spent countless hours after practices to hone their game. It all came to fruition this year as they won the 3A state doubles championship."

In the state overall competition, they won their first round match against 4A state winners Highland. In the second round, however, their season ended with a defeat at the hands of 7A Little Rock Central.

On the girls side of the ledger, Stephanie Steakley and Sabrina Benton won the 3A district doubles title and finished runnerup for the 3A state doubles competition.

"I can't say enough about Sabrina and Stephanie," said Bowman. "Both are excellent students and school leaders. Stephanie is in the running for valedictorian while Sabrina is in the top ten percent of her class. They are both class acts and served a key role in senior leadership for the team."

Steakley and Benton were undefeated during the regular season and, in fact, were never challenged all year. Their first loss came at the hands of the eventual state champions, Lakeside-Lakeview. The pair secured an invitation to the state overall tournament as a result of their second place finish in the 3A state tournament. They lost to a team from 6A Marion in the overall tourney.

In other action Chris Stover lost to the number three seed in the first round of the boys singles competition. Candace Dorris lost to eventual 3A state champion from Bismarck in the second round of the girls singles competition.

As a result of the high finish of Bass and Powell, the boys team finished runnerup in the 3A state competition.

"Next year, we will be losing Benton and Steakley and that will be a huge loss," concluded Bowman. "But hopefully we can build on our past success and other team members can fill in…they will have big shoes to fill.

"Carla Kemp, Hailey Shankle, and Kelli Saddler are sophomores, are all fine athletes and have great potential. Ben Stover is a freshman this year and has come a long way. With the return of Bass and Powell, and the rest of the team I expect big things in the future."

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