Jamestown’s Doubles Team of DeBerry, Neilson Fall in 4A State Semifinals

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Grayson DeBerry and Derrick Neilson pose with Jamestown coach Bob Artis following the match. (Photo courtesy of Jamestown athletics)
Grayson DeBerry and Derrick Neilson pose with Jamestown coach Bob Artis following the match. (Photo courtesy of Jamestown Athletics)

Jamestown’s doubles team of Grayson DeBerry and Derrick Neilson were defeated 6-4, 6-2 by John Handley’s duo of Parker Wilson and Carter Watts during Friday’s Virginia High School League Group 4A Tennis Championships at Liberty University.

Playing an experienced doubles team, DeBerry and Neilson decided to implement a unique strategy.

Normally in doubles, a traditional doubles defense features one player on one half of the court close to the net and another player playing toward the baseline on the other side of the net.

Instead, DeBerry and Neilson played in an “I” formation, which stacks both players in the middle of the court and forces their opponents to play shots down the line instead of across the court.

The strategy worked well during the first set with both teams holding serve until a late break from Wilson and Watts gave John Handley the opening set by a final of 6-4.

Jamestown’s “I” formation tactic backfired in the second set as the John Handley doubles team adapted to the obscure defense and began attacking its weak points. As well as commanding rallies, Wilson and Watts also commanded the service game.

“They outserved us,” Jamestown Coach Bob Artis said. “Their serves were just more damaging for our team.”

DeBerry and Neilson struggled to keep pace with Wilson and Watts, dropping the second set 6-2 and ending their 2015 season.

After the match, Artis complimented his players and team as a whole, emphasizing how far his team came despite its relative youth. Always enthusiastic, Artis said he is ready for next season to roll around.

“When does practice start?” he said with a laugh. “I’m ready to go back to work.”