The players and coaches of the Halifax County High School boys tennis team are all smiles as Halifax County High School athletic director Allen Lawter (left) presents the Piedmont District Tournament championship trophy to head coach David Riddle following the team’s win over Franklin County High School Monday afternoon at Halifax County High School.

The Halifax County High School boys tennis team needed one win in doubles play to put it over the top, and the team’s top doubles tandem of Ben Irby and Owen McAbee delivered.

With the Comets leading 4-2 after the six singles matches, Irby and McAbee scored a straight-set 6-2, 6-2 win in the number one doubles contest to give the undefeated Comets a 5-2 win over Franklin County High School and give Halifax County High School its first Piedmont District boys tennis championship

“It means the world to me to claim this first district championship” Irby said after the contest that improved the Comets’ overall record to 18-0.

“We were undefeated during the regular season, but that wasn’t good enough for us. We wanted this championship and we got it.”

“This was huge for us,” said Comets heads coach David Riddle.

“We had a couple of conference runner-ups a couple of years back, and we haven’t done this Piedmont District Tournament before. We as a team had talked about the post-season all season. The guys pulled through today. They played a very tough Franklin County team that had lost to only two teams during the season. They gave us a strong run for the money today.”

The contest against the Eagles was the toughest the Comets have encountered all season. One of the toughest matches of the day was the number three singles match where the Comets’ Minjune Kim battled the Eagles’ Matthew Thompson through a three-set contest that involved a tiebreaker that lasted over two hours.

Kim battled hard throughout the match, but he lost the tiebreaker after falling victim to leg cramps in the late going.

“Stamina-wise, this was the toughest match I played all year,” Kim said.

“I was just trying to stay in the game (after the cramps hit). I was trying to end it in one or two shots if I could, because I knew if I drew out the match much longer my leg could get worse, or I would just lose. It’s just hard when you can’t fully use one of your legs.”

Irby faced a tough contest as well in his singles match against Franklin County High School’s Chris Taylor, a match he won in straight sets 6-4, 6-1, was a tough one.

“That kid is a senior too. He’s been playing for four years, and I have been playing for three years. We had four great matches, and I came out on top in this one.”

Halifax County High School picked up wins from Irby and Drew Salley in the numbers one and two singles contests respectively and added wins from Luke Redd and Owen McAbee in the four and five spots respectively enroute to taking the 4-2 lead.

Irby and McAbee scored their straight-set win in the number one doubles contest to lock up the victory for the Comets.

The Comets’ number two doubles team of Salley and Luke Redd were leading 4-3, and the number three doubles team of Grayson Ballance and Trevor Riddle were up 3-0 when play was stopped.




1. Ben Irby (HC) def Chris Taylor 6-4, 6-1

2. Drew Salley (HC) def Dakota Treadway 7-5, 6-4

3. Matthew Thompson def Minjune Kim (HC) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4

4. Luke Redd (HC) def Bram David 6-0, 6-4

5. Owen McAbee (HC) def Kobe Levisy 6-1, 6-0

6. Stone Gibbs def Grayson Ballance (HC) 7-5, 6-4


1.  Irby/McAbee (HC) def Taylor/David 6-2, 6-2

2.  Salley/Redd (HC) vs Treadway/Thompson DNF

3. Ballance/Trevor Riddle (HC) vs Levisy/Gibbs DNF

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at