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Riverside Military falls in tennis playoffs to Lovett
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After winning the Region 8-AA championship and earning a No. 1 seed and bye for the state playoffs, the Riverside Military Academy boys tennis team’s great season came to an end against Lovett High School with a 5-0 loss in the second round.

“Lovett’s an extremely good team from top to bottom,” Riverside head coach Kelly Davis said. “Great opponent — I’m sure they’ll do well in the next round of the tournament as well. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes. We didn’t put balls away that we had a chance to put away.

“And then when you give a good team another chance to return a shot, they’re going to return the shot on you. Then it’s right back to even as far as it goes. Top to bottom, we competed. All the matches were relatively close. We just didn’t make the shots when we needed.”

Riverside’s No. 1 singles player, junior Merritt Wilburn, lost 6-3, 6-4 to Lovett’s Walt Muller. However, Wilburn’s match looked like it could be over quickly before he fought back in the second set from a 4-1 deficit.

He won break points in the sixth and eighth games of the set, the second of which tied the set back at 4-4. But Muller came back to break Wilburn while he was on serve, and regained a 5-4 lead. Muller then held serve as he closed the match out at 6-4.

As he looked back on the matches and at the season as a whole, Davis was proud of what his team had accomplished for themselves, and for Riverside.

“Region champions — that’s a great accomplishment,” Davis said. “It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season. So to reach that is a great milestone. We’re a very young team for tennis. We do return a lot (of players). So hopefully we can make another run at it next year.

“I’m extremely proud of our kids. They battled all season long, and we’ve had a lot of fun as well.”