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Longhorn netters having early success in 2017 tennis

By Tim Chambers

A fresh new set of resurfaced tennis courts appear to be playing dividends for head coach Eric Crabtree and his Longhorn netters. The boys won two matches last week over Sullivan North and Sullivan East while the girls defeated Sullivan North but were nipped by the Lady Patriots.
Horns sweep Sullivan North
Mason Stanley set the tone early for the boys after Kris Artidiello fell 6-8 in a match that could have went either way.
Stanley bounced back to win his match 8-6 followed by an 8-1 win from Noah Cox. The Longhorns had the streak stopped when Ethan Carroll was defeated by a slim 6-8 margin but once again the Horns would rise to the challenge.
Dalton Sluder and Gavin Gutierrez both won the final two singles matches 8-0 giving the Horns momentum in the doubles matches.
Artidiello and Stanley took the first doubles match 8-4 while Gutierrez and Icenhour logged an 8-5 victory with several good shots around the net.
The “Noah Connection” Noah Cox and Noah Nelson took the final doubles match 6-3.
The girls were also victorious winning four out of six in singles matches. Ashytn Henson, 8-2, Haley Cannon 8-3, Taylor Cox 8-1 and Olivia Cox 8-0 were all winners. Gracie May was defeated 5-8 and Cora Hayworth lost 4-8 but according to Crabtree they all played well.
“All of our kids stepped up and played well against North,” said Crabtree. “I thought we were aggressive especially attacking the net. A couple of those single losses could have gone either way.”
Henson and May bounced back to win in doubles 8-5.  Cassie Grayson and Adrianna Canter took the last match 6-2. Maddie Icenhour and Haley Lowe lost 5-8 in another close match.
Horns split with Sullivan East
They boys enjoyed another 7-2 win by defeating the Patriots while the girls dropped a tight-fisted 6-3 match.
Kris Artidiello (7-6) Mason Stanley (6-4), Ethan Icenhour 6-3 all enjoyed wins on the singles side. Dalton Sluder fell in a close match 5-7.
Benji Bower and Noah Nelson had a 6-3 win in the doubles match.
“It might have been a different story if their No. 1-2 players had played,” said Crabtree. “They were dismissed from the team yesterday so East had to forfeit a couple of singles and one doubles match.”
Maddie Icenhour was the only Lady Longhorn to win a singles match. Cannon won a squeaker 7-6 while Icenhour prevailed 6-4. Taylor and Olivia Cox won 6-3 in doubles action as did Cassie Grayson and Adrianna Canter who prevailed by the same score.
Crabtree was happy withe outcome.
“The play so far has been great,” added Crabtree. “It’s been a long time since the boys and girls won on the same day. Our kids work hard every day and having the really good courts have helped. We bring the boys in at a certain time and then the girls. It’s taken a little more time but it seems to be working. We were in almost all the matches.”
The Longhorns were scheduled to play at home on Monday against Science Hill and Tuesday versus Unicoi County.