Versatile Woods crowned champ

Versatile Woods crowned champ
Versatile Woods crowned champ

Union City’s Ben Woods returns a backhand during his victory in the District 14A-AA finale Tuesday at UT Martin.
For once, Union City’s Ben Woods didn’t have to change in a phone booth a la Superman Tuesday.
And the total focus on his tennis game paid off with the UC senior — who doubles as a starter for the baseball team — victorious in the finals of the District 14A-AA Tournament at UT Martin.
Woods, who won the league crown by downing Milan’s Brandon Dowdy 6-2 and 7-6 (7-4 in tiebreaker) claimed his second straight berth in the Region 7A-AA Tournament set for May 12 at 2 p.m. in Martin with the triumph.
“I wish I had Ben here more often as my No. 1 seed,” Tornado tennis coach Jason Deem said after the match. “However, his success in baseball shows just how well-rounded of an athlete and a young man that he is.”
“Time management is a key component for me,” said Woods, who also plays summer league baseball. “When my peers are playing around in class, I try to do my homework in class, so I will be able to go straight to whatever sports field I’m on as soon as school is over.”
But baseball and tennis are not the only sports that Woods has had a vested interest in during his four years at Union City High School.
Woods has also served as a manager for both the boys’ basketball and football teams during his high school tenure.
“I like being around sports and, after I realized I liked managing in football, I decided to try it out in basketball, too,” Woods said after his district tennis tournament victory. “Plus, I never have to pay to get into games.”
Otherwise, Union City had to settle for silver medals in both the girls’ singles and girls’ doubles play Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Twister tandem of Rachel Triplett and Sara Gilliam appeared to be on its way to the district title after winning the first set 6-2 over Dyersburg’s Cameron Tipton and Molly Herman.
However, the D’burg duo rallied to win the second set 7-5 and overcame a 3-1 deficit in the third set for the victory. Tipton and Herman won the final five games and 6-3 overall in the last set en route to the gold medal.
Still, just advancing to the district finals is bittersweet to Deem for what was his No. 2 doubles team throughout the regular season.
“I’m very pleased with the way Sara and Rachel have stepped up here in the district tournament,” Deem said. “They were down a set yesterday (Monday), but they never gave up and now they have a chance to represent not only our district but Union City in the regional tourney.”
In girls’ singles action, Caroline Kirkland lost for just the second time in 2008 in the district finale.
Greenfield’s Katie McCall downed UC’s top singles seed in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.
Despite the loss, Deem was quick to point out Kirkland’s stellar regular season and district tournament.
“Caroline has only lost two matches this year and they’ve both been to the same player,” Deem explained. “She’s a fantastic player with good character and I wish, selfishly, that she was not a senior this season.
“However, we’ll have to take it how we got it and, hopefully, she can lengthen her high school career throughout the regional tournament.”
Up next for Woods, Triplett, Gilliam and Kirkland is the aforementioned regional tournament, with Woods taking on the District 13A-AA runner-up and Gilliam and Triplett squaring off against the 13A-AA champion.
Kirkland will face the girls’ champion from the other league.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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