published Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Able, Woog, Schofield win tennis titles

After winning the Girls’ 12- and 14-under state qualifying tennis tournaments the past two years in Murfreesboro, Emerald Able of Memphis came to Chattanooga this year and won the 16s singles title Monday at the Champions Club.

And she was the top seed although she is only 13 years old. She turns 14 on Sept. 5.

Chattanooga’s Harper Caswell, one of the fifth seeds, edged Baylor School teammate Maggie Crumbliss in the semifinals, 7-6(5), 7-5, before falling 6-4, 6-3 to Able in the championship match. Crumbliss then finished third in a walkover against injured third seed Anna Feaster of Knoxville, who lost 6-2, 6-2 to Able in the semifinals.

Crumbliss and Caswell later set up a doubles final against top-seeded Able and Oroma Womeodu by outlasting Caswell’s sister Samantha and McCall Morgan, the second seeds, 9-7.

Second-seeded Stefan Woog from Lakeland, Tenn., a Memphis suburb, rallied to defeat fifth seed Michael Chen of Johnson City, 5-7, 6-1, 1-0(6) for the Boys’ 18s singles championship, and third-seeded Katherine Schofield of Franklin beat Becca Hanniford of Cordova for the Girls’ 18s title.

Schofield also won the doubles championship with Kayla Jones of Memphis as the top-seeded duo, and Woog and Palmer Campbell of Nashville won their semifinal to create a title showdown against Knoxville’s Brian Patrick and Steven Patrick.

No. 1 seed Jarryd Woog will face No. 2 seed Walker Sims, also of Memphis, in the Boys’ 16s singles final this morning at 9:30, and they will team up for the doubles final against Nashville’s Andy Druffel and Andrew Graham.

Another Woog, Lauren, reached the Girls’ 16s consolation semifinals before falling 7-6(4), 7-6(3) to Morgan.

Tennessee has 13 spots guaranteed in each of the Southern age-group junior tournaments starting June 18, and at least the top eight in state qualifying are assured of having spots. Medical exemptions or 2010 state age-group wins are among other ways to move on.

The Woogs are home-schooled and their father, George, has taught at the Racquet Club of Memphis since 1991, and Jarryd said that is who “really got us started and got those fundamentals in us. Then we developed our own styles but still have those fundamentals.”

Jarryd turns 17 in September but recently has outgrown Stefan, who turns 18 this month. The brothers practice against each other about an hour and a half every day, Jarryd said, but they avoid making it competition-style.

As for approaches, he noted, “Stefan likes to stay on the baseline and wait for the other guy to make mistakes. I’m more of a big server and try to get to the net.”

The younger Woog boy defeated fellow club member and frequent training partner Cody Gubin 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. Sims is from a different Memphis club, but they are friends as well as doubles partners.

“We have played three times before [in tournament singles], I think, and they have all gone three sets,” said Woog, who has won two of those.

His older brother’s patience showed in Monday’s heat.

“I was missing easy shots in the first set, but in the second set I finally got into a rhythm with my shots, and my serve improved tremendously,” said Stefan, who said he has made great strides in his skills and consistency in the last several weeks. “After I took a month off to do other things besides tennis, I finally learned to do things on the court that I was not doing well before — like a high backhand and generating spin.”

Able, a Memphis Sports Academy player, said she pulled away from Caswell in both sets by “trying to stay focused and playing one point at a time, trying not to rush.” She used a wide array of shots to help maintain that focus.

As for being so successful in four years of the sport, Able said, ”I really like tennis. It’s a passion. And I really like to win.”

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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