Louis Nash, and his Oxford High Chargers, have won the MHSAA Class 5A state tennis championship every year since 2008. All of those victories were achieved out of town, away from his base of support.
In just under three weeks, Nash and the Chargers could celebrate a 10th straight title right in their backyard. The MHSAA awarded the Oxford Park Commission’s FNC Tennis Center with a portion of the state championships for the second straight year. (Class 1-3A will be played at the same time May 8-10). Along with the team championships, the individual title winners will be decided in the three-day event.
In 2016, the Chargers defeated Stone County at Parham Bridges in Jackson while teams in Class 1-3 and 4A celebrated at FNC. Nash, whose Chargers defeated Center Hill in the first round of the playoffs this past Tuesday, was excited about the prospect of winning a title on the courts his team is so familiar with.
“Last year, I missed all the fun and games and I look forward to being here. I’m actually excited just to be up here and watch it all take place,” Nash said about FNC hosting for a second straight year. “I don’t see this going away. I think this is going to be a long-term relationship with the MHSAA. I think the way it was done last year, in a first-class way, the way it was run, the way the OPC pitched in along with Mike (Young), William (Foreman) and Debbie (Swindoll), they did a great job.”
Young is the athletics manager with the OPC that is in charge of tennis instruction. Foreman is the tennis manager and one of the instructors, while Swindoll is the head instructor at the OPC. She also serves as the head coach of the Lafayette Commodores.
“We are just honored that the MHSAA has allowed the Oxford Park Commission to host their tennis state tournament again,” Young said. “We are looking forward to all the high school teams coming to Oxford to compete and to enjoy our beautiful city.”
Ricky Neaves, the Associate Director of the MHSAA, was responsible for the selection of bids. He talked highly about the FNC facility overall, and how he appreciated the amount of support and help he received from the OPC and the City of Oxford.
“First of all, FNC is one of the better, if not the best, facilities to host an event like this,” Neaves said. “It was really easy to award FNC the championships for a second time. Not only was the tournament run well last year, the city was very helpful with everything that we needed. About 99 percent of the feedback I got about last year was very positive.”
The one not-as-positive Neaves received about last year’s tournament revolved around travel for some teams from the southern part of the state. He was quick to point out that while Oxford is further to get to than Jackson, there are many that play in tournaments even farther away.
Outside of hosting all home matches for both Oxford and Lafayette during the year, FNC served as host to three different individual division tournaments last week from Class 6A, 5A and 4A. The facility is routinely a host site for some of the state’s top youth tournaments as well.
Nash felt like if the Chargers were fortunate enough to be in the title match in a few weeks, he said the players would be pleasantly surprised with the turnout to watch them play.
“I think they will all be really pleased and touched by the amount of their friends that can actually get over here to watch them play instead of just hearing about it like in the past,” Nash said. “I could see (OHS principal) Bradley Roberson letting kids out to watch the state final. I think it’s going to be something that’s really cool.”
Courtesy of John Davis and Oxford Park Commission
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