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Smackover competes in 3A state tourney

by Tony Burns | October 12, 2021 at 7:24 p.m.

For the second year in a row, Smackover’s Mackenzie Preston claimed fourth place in girls’ singles in the 3A State Tennis Tournament.

The senior won twice on Monday to advance to Tuesday’s semifinals. She lost to Haas Hall’s Naya Kessman 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals and to Lovey Reynolds of Episcopal Collegiate 6-0, 6-0 in the third place consolation at Burns Park in Little Rock.

Preston opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 victory and then won 6-1, 6-2 in the second round. She was the only Smackover player to advance into Tuesday’s play.

“Of course I wanted all of our qualifiers to advance further and finish at the top for their sakes. But I absolutely could not be more impressed with all of them. They are public school, multiple-sport athletes competing largely against private school USTA tournament players, which makes me even prouder of their efforts and dedication,” said Smackover coach Sonia Barker.

“Mackenzie faced two extremely good players in the semifinals and her fourth place finish for the second year in a row again wins her well-deserved All-State honors.”

“I feel like this was the best experience at state I’ve had in all four years,” said Preston. “I had the majority of my team there to cheer me on and it made me feel really special to have everyone there. I couldn’t have done anything like this without my team. Also Mrs. Barker, she deserves all the glory. She is one of the best coaches I have ever played for and I can’t thank her enough for all she has taught me.”

The Lady Bucks’ district champion doubles duo of Reese McKinnon and Kaylee Manasco dropped a heartbreaker in the opening round, losing 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

“It was a good match, very tough,” said Barker.

Kaylee Davis and Taylor Darden lost their opening doubles match.

The Bucks’ doubles team of Chase Brumley and Maddox Gottberg won its first match 6-1, 6-4 before falling in the second round.

Evan Phillips fell in the first round of singles.

“I cannot say enough about each one of these players, not just about their passion for competing in tennis and being such a close, supportive team, but about who they are as genuine, upstanding young people,” said Barker. “They make my pride in them sincerely justifiable.”

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