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May 21, 2024

Colts Win It Again

Bayou brings home second boys state tennis title 

in three years  

By Andy Collier, The Bolivar Bullet

The Bayou Academy Colts grabbed the top prize again in tennis. 

For the second time in three years and third time overall, the Bayou Academy boys tennis program captured a state championship as they won the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools 5A State Boys Tennis Tournament on Thursday (April 25) at the Ridgeland Tennis Center in Ridgeland. This year also marked the third straight year that Bayou tennis has brought home a state title. The Lady Colts won the 5A State Girls Championship last year. 

The Colts were led by two state champions and one state runner-up. Junior Walker Cox won the state title in No. 2 boys singles, senior Turner Haynes and freshman Thomas Logan won the state title in No. 2 boys doubles and Holden Cooke finished state runner-up for the third straight year in No. 1 boys singles. 

Bayou Head Tennis Coach John Cox, who is in his seventh year leading the program, said the players delivered the goods at state.

“All the credit goes to the kids,” said Coach Cox. “I definitely agree they all bought into our program and what we are trying to do. We don’t really stress results to the kids as much as we do doing the little things each day to make yourself better. These guys have really embraced that philosophy and the results take care of themselves.”

Walker Cox won his first match in No. 2 boys singles by defeating St. Aloysius’ Michael Moore in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals to advance to the finals. Cox stepped up his game in the title match as he defeated Park Place’s Jaydon Knott 6-1, 6-4 to claim his first state singles title. Cox finished the year with a singles record of 11-2. 

“Walker’s game is predicated on him being able to set the tone with his forehand, so he can move forward and really put pressure on his opponent,” said Coach Cox. “He played a very clean semifinal match for the most part and was able to get off the court and watch the other semifinal. So Walker knew what he would be getting. His first set in the final might have been his best set of tennis all year as far as ball striking goes. I think the adrenaline wore off a bit in the second set, plus it was hot for the first time all season. To his credit, Walker settled into the grind in the second set and just showed he was the better tennis player to win that match.”

Haynes and Logan opened their action with a win in the semifinals of the No. 2 boys doubles tournament by defeating St. Aloysius’ John Stewart and Ryan Davidson 6-1, 6-0 to advance to the championship game against Lamar’s Samuel Hosch and Henry Prewitt. 

The title match turned out to be a barn burner as Hosch and Prewitt won the first set 7-6. Haynes and Logan had to fight back hard by winning the second set 6-1 to force a tiebreaker set. Haynes and Logan stayed focused and won a grueling third set 6-4 to bring home the state championship. Haynes and Logan went a perfect 10-0 teaming together. The state title in No. 2 boys doubles was Haynes’ second as he won it with William Wessel in 2022. 

“When they are focused and really doing what they do, I knew no one would beat them at No. 2 doubles,” said Coach Cox. “They got through to the final pretty quickly and then they played the same two kids they had defeated at North State. We came out hot, and I thought we were about to blow those kids off the court. But then we wandered and before you knew it, we had lost the first set. We had a pretty direct discussion between sets, and you could tell our intensity changed for the better to take the second set. Third sets are sometimes less about tennis ability and more about willpower. I thought we just refused to blink until that last point. I’m so happy for those guys, and they had a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Cooke won his first match in No. 1 boys singles as he defeated Providence Classical’s Reily Lenert in straight sets 6-1, 6-2  in the semifinals which set up a match with his rival Alexander Monagan of Cathedral Catholic School. Monagan had defeated Cooke the previous two years in the state title match. Cooke, a senior, fought hard, but Monagan, a junior, defeated Cooke in straight sets 6-1, 6-0. 

The loss dropped Cooke to 12-4 this year. Cooke, who signed to play tennis at Northwest Community College, still posted an impressive record of 41-8 over the last three years in singles play.

“Holden is an elite tennis player, and I I knew it would take someone really good to beat him,” said Coach Cox. “In the back of our mind, we knew from the start of the season that we would see a rematch with Alexander. Holden was good all year and quite frankly, I thought he hit the ball very well in the final. As a coach, I would have loved for Holden to get that win because honestly, Holden is too good of a tennis player to not have an individual state title by his name. 

“Holden was just a rock at the top of the lineup, and everyone knew he would be tough to beat. He’s a guy who only lost a 5A singles match three times in his career,” added Cox. 

In the 5A State Girls Tennis Tournament, Bayou took one player to compete with sophomore Chandler Harris. Harris ended up finishing state runner-up in No. 2 girls singles. 

Harris defeated St. Aloysius’ Hendrix Eldridge in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals to advance to the state championship match against Pillow’s Annie Powers. Harris and Powers battled hard in the first set as Powers won 7-6. Harris couldn’t come back in the second set as Powers won 6-2 to claim the state championship. Harris still finished the year in singles play with a 10-3 record. 

“Chandler worked so hard during the summer on her game, and I’m so pleased she was able to find success,” said Coach Cox. “She’s never really played in our line-up because of either her youth or injuries, and I didn’t know what to expect from her. She improved all year and really hit her stride the last two weeks. She can and will get better, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her in the state tournament.”

Coach Cox was assisted during the year by Lewis Butler, Jr. Butler, who is from Cleveland, played college tennis at Itawamba Community College where he was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. 

Cox said Butler is a big asset to the tennis program. 

“It couldn’t do without Lewis,” said Cox.”First, logistically, it’s tough to manage a roster of 57 or so kids. But more than that, Lewis is good with kids and has such a high tennis IQ. I think very few of the kids know just how special a player Lewis was in his own right, and he’s way too modest to ever tell them. I trust him completely coaching his courts during matches, and we each bring a different style to the table. Lewis loves our kids, and he loves tennis. He might have been more excited about the results than I was.”