By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY — Max Gillett couldn’t get over the hump. Whenever the Norman high senior faced a tennis player who was a higher seed, he could never find a way to close the deal and get a win.
That changed Tuesday during the Mid-State Conference Championship tournament at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center. In the No. 2 singles division, Gillett earned the title by defeating No. 1 seed Harrison Gieger of Edmond Memorial in the finals.
“I’ve haven’t done very well against higher seedings than me, but this is a big one,” Gillett said. “It definitely kind of opened myself up to the idea that I can actually be good. Maybe do something in state this year.”
Not only did Gillett beat Harrison, he swept through him in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
“I played out of my mind,” Gillett said. “I haven’t really played that much. I just kind of went out there and played as well as I could possibly play. I just tried to play it a game at a time. I never tried to get ahead of myself because I know that everyone thinks he’s better than me. So why worry about it. I’m supposed to lose huge to him.”
Norman High coach Kelly Stout said Gillett has been close to coming through with an upset win at several points in the season.
“Max finally broke through today,” Stout said. “He’s been on the edge of two or three really tight matches this year with some really good players. I think he’s over that hump now and will now start shining a little more in matches.”
Despite the win by Gillett, it wasn’t enough to vault the Tigers into a team championship. The Bulldogs cruised to the boys’ title with 30 points. Westmoore took second with 21. Norman North edge out NHS by a point to take hold of third place.
The Timberwolves got a big performance from freshman Preston Jenkins and senior Donny Grider. They took runner-up in No. 2 doubles.
“Preston is a pretty outstanding player for just being a freshman,” North coach Phill Corbett said. “We got three freshmen out there this year with a lot of potential and he’s one. Usually he plays with another freshman, but I played him with a senior today just because he’s a little more consistent.”
On the girls’ side, Edmond held off the Timberwolves 26-21 to win the conference crown. Norman took third with 21 points.
Southmoore’s Jordan Henry continued her dominance through the season as she claimed the No. 1 singles title when she beat North’s Nina Jabrzemski 6-1, 6-2.
The Tigers’ No. 1 doubles duo of Grace Anthony and Gabby Schreiner were the only other area team to win. Once again, they had to go through an Edmond squad to get the title.
“No. 1 doubles exceeded my expectations,” Stout said. “They got the one seed, but Edmond Memorial was still in their path. They overcame them 7-5 in the third set. It was a great win. They are more than just a great doubles team. They are really good friends and they get along great on the court. They are always smiling, nothing gets them down. That kind of tends to deflate the competition on the court and I think that helped them in the championship game.”
Even though this is the last year of the Mid-State Conference, Edmond will still be waiting for area schools when they move to the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference next season. Stout hopes his players will take a lesson from Gillett, Anthony and Schreiner on the attitude it takes to get past the Bulldogs.
“You just kind of have to start building your own (reputation) and get your own confidence going, and that’s one way to do it. We just need to do it with some of our other players now.”
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