|05/14/19 - |
Even though the Ada High boys tennis team had clinched the 2019 Class 4A State championship hours earlier with semifinal victories for all four entrants, there were no signs of many celebrations until the final Cougar match was over.
Then, moments after the Ada No. 1 Doubles team of Reese Siegle-Landon Swopes won the last tie-breaker point to edge the previously unbeaten team of Mason Allen and Braden Wadley of Grove in a tense championship match, AHS head coach Skip Griese could finally let his bottled-up emotions out.
“23... 23... 23,” he kept repeating to the large group of Ada tennis fans who remained inside the Oklahoma City Tennis Center Saturday night. The tournament was delayed four hours by rain, but the Pontotoc County proud didn’t seem to be bothered by the extended stay.
The Cougars had secured the Ada tennis program’s 23rd overall state championship. It was also a four-peat for the Ada boys and the eighth consecutive season that Ada has won a team title (boys or girls). Let that sink in. Ada has brought home a first-place trophy every year since 2012.
Griese made a beeline toward his wife, Debbie, and the celebration really picked up.
“We did it,” he said, as the two hugged and danced around for what must have seemed like an eternity.
And, oh, by the way, Griese announced his retirement, and this was his final season as the team’s head coach. And he’s going out with a thunderous bang.
“It’s great to win the last match of my career and put 23 on the board for Ada Cougar tennis,” Griese told The Ada News. “It’s just a great career I’ve had. Great kids. Great parent support. Administration support. Family support. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m truly blessed.”
Swopes and Reese Siegle finished off the top-seeded Ridgerunners 6-4, 7-6. Allen and Wadley had gained an early two-point lead in the tie-breaker and tried to force a third set before the Cougar combo rallied. The Ada combo finished the spring with an overall record of 25-5.
“We just started coming through. That team was undefeated. That was their first loss. They were 21-0 in that match, and now they are 21-1,” Griese said.
These Cougars were dominant all season long and nothing changed at the state tournament. The No. 1 Doubles team of Ryan McCortney and Noah Watkins ran roughshod through their draw. They whipped Grant Holder and John Ritter of Henryetta 6-1, 6-0 in the finals and only lost two games in four state matches. McCortney and Watkins eded up 28-4 this season.
In No. 1 Singles, Crossings Christian star Daniel Haley turned back Ada’s Christian Siegle 6-3, 6-0 for the championship. Siegle finished with a 24-10 record.
Another talented Crossings Christian player, Hunter Demundrun, defeated Ada’s Jonathan Cloar 6-2, 6-2 for the No. 2 Singles title. Cloar ended up 21-10.
“We had the tournament won in the semifinals, but you still want to try and go win everything in the finals,” Griese said. “Crossings has some great singles players. We played them really hard. And we swept the doubles. We just had a great year.”
The Cougars’ latest state crown was the 14th in school history, moving Ada into a tie for third with Jenks for the most state championships among all classes.
Ada piled up 32 points in the team standings. Crossings Christian was runner-up with 24. Grove and Henryetta shared third place with 19 points apiece, and Byng settled in the fifth spot with 11 points.
To add a little icing on the already sweet cake, the Ada boys were also named the Class 4A State Academic champion during the awards presentation.
Griese praised friend and assistant coach Terry Swopes — father of junior Landon Swopes — for his efforts along the way.
“Terry Swopes deserves a lot of credit. He has helped me more than I can even explain in words,” Griese said.
And Class 4A should take notice. Everyone on the Ada High tennis team — which features five juniors and a sophomore — is coming back, and the Cougars will be coming for a fifth straight championship.
Swopes will take over head coaching duties next spring.