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Bob Jones junior tennis players Jonah Moro, left, and Parker Free won the No. 1 doubles championship at the 2023 AHSAA Class 7A State Tennis Championships. Overall, the Patriots finished runner-up in team standings. Photo Contributed

Bob Jones Tennis Team State Runner-Up; Win Two State Championships

MOBILE- The Bob Jones boys tennis team posted its highest finish ever at the recent AHSAA State Tournament. Behind the stellar play of Parker Free and Jonah Moro, the Patriots finished runner-up to Vestavia Hills in the Class 7A action held in Mobile. Free and Moro teamed up to win the No. 1 doubles championship while Free won his second consecutive No. 1 singles state title.

“For their efforts they will be a part of the tradition we have at Bob Jones of having a sign on our court fence stating their title efforts,” said Bill Bryant, head coach of the Patriots’ tennis program for 11 years.

For Free, who has been playing competitive tennis for only five years, it was his third straight appearance in the finals finishing runner-up as a freshman and now etching his name in Alabama high school athletics history with his second straight state title doing so over Samuel Sellers of Hoover. This year he put a near perfect beat-down on Sellers with 6-0, 6-1 scores. Through the recent Sectional and now State Tournament, Free lost just three games in his six matches. A remarkable feat of endurance and athleticism.

“I stayed back most of the finals match and made him hit as many balls as possible in an attempt to wear him down,” said Free, a junior. “I didn’t come in too much as I figured I could out rally him.”

“He exudes confidence as he has full commitment on the court,” said Bryant of his No. 1 player. “He’s relentless, attacks and has one speed on the court. His loss in the state finals as a freshman I believe helped him become mentally strong and that’s what I see as his biggest improvement and that has been remarkable.”

In No. 6 singles, Karthik Kaki of Bob Jones fell to Andrew Pipkin of Vestavia Hills 6-0, 6-0.

In the doubles match, the two junior Patriots rolled to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kade Nelson and John Michael Yanosky of Vestavia Hills in a match Bryant called made possible by the play of Moro. “He was the difference in their earlier matches at state and in the finals, he set up Parker for some big winning points. He basically imposed his will in the match as he and Parker are best friends.”

“The experience was awesome as we really had no expectations to win, but Jonah played very well as he was on top of his game,” added Free, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 155 pounds and carries a tremendous 4.44 grade point average.

For Moro, who once played soccer, baseball and football, made the change to tennis in the fourth grade while playing an X-Box tennis game and decided to try the real thing. He has been on the Bob Jones teams for five years including three on varsity where he plays No. 3 singles.

“Parker is like a brother to me and led me to be better and any time you’re on the court alongside him it’s hard not to be confident,” said Moro, who stands 6-2 and weighs in at 180-pounds while carrying a 3.9 grade point average. “When I saw the draw we had I had high hopes we could make it. Mentally I just knew we were going to win.”

Moro is never afraid to rush the net in his singles play and that style is a good reason why he plays so well in doubles. He’s fearless but having the best in the state at your side certainly helped in his efforts in the state finals.

“Winning with my best friend could not have been more perfect,” added Moro. “We have an advantage knowing each other like we do on and off the court.”

“This was the year we were pointing to where winning the state title could happen,” said Bryant, who also teaches history at Bob Jones

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