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Hill, Rogers advance to state finals

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 24, 2018 at 10:36 PM

MURFREESBORO — Dobyns-Bennett doubles partners Willa Rogers and Lainey Hill had the clear goal in mind of playing one more day at the TSSAA state individual tennis championships.

They achieved that goal with a pair of convincing wins Thursday at the Adams Tennis Center.

Rogers and Hill steamrolled Brighton's Andi Coulston and MacCauley Jones 6-0, 6-1 before easily defeating Molly and Macy Speight of Murfreesboro Central in the semifinal round, 6-2, 6-2.

They will meet defending state doubles champions Evie Calhoun and Georgia Fischer of Brentwood in Friday's championship match at 10 a.m.

"We play together almost every day and we've been practicing hard, so our chemistry has gotten better and better," Hill said. "Winning that first match, that took a little pressure off — but we really wanted to get to the finals."

Rogers is carrying on a family tradition. Her cousin, Ben, is a former D-B standout who played at Tennessee and older sister, Josie, was a two-time state runner-up, now playing at Navy.

"We were just trying to be aggressive," Rogers said. "It was my first match ever at the state, and I watched my sister play down here, so I'm excited to finally be in her shoes."

LONGHORNS’ LONG MATCH

Johnson County sophomores Taylor and Olivia Cox barely missed in their quarterfinal match with Summertown's Alexis Perry and Maggie Long.

The Cox sisters won the first set 6-2, but lost the ensuing sets 7-6 (3) and 6-2. In the second set, the Cox girls were up 4-3, but it proved to be tough to hold serve as it was throughout the match.

"Losing that second set, it took a little out of us, but we were able to get back up," Taylor Cox said. "That second set, they just stepped it up a little more than we did. But, it's amazing to be able to come to state and I'm glad I got to do it with my sister."

Taylor Cox, who also plays volleyball, mentioned she had an arm movement like a volleyball spike to score several points at the net. For Olivia Cox, the moment was also made sweeter by sharing it with family as a large contingent came from Mountain City to watch the sisters play.

"There's no one I would rather play with. She's my perfect doubles partner," Olivia Cox said. "And the support from our family was just amazing. To come that far away and to hear all of them, it lifted us up."

PUTTING THE SPIN ON IT

Sullivan North junior Adam Nelson lost 6-4, 6-2 to Will Christian of Trinity Christian in the Small Schools boys' singles quarterfinals.

Nelson felt he was most effective with his topspin on his forehands and backhands, keeping the ball deep. A trip to the state tournament was an achievement for Nelson, considering his lack of experience.

"It's been crazy, the level of competition,” Nelson said. “I've had to step my game up through the conference tournament to now, but to just be playing for one and a half years, it's such a great experience. It's taught me how I have to step my game up next season."

SET IN STONE

Tennessee High senior Stone Cozart will be going for his first state individual title in the Large Schools boys' singles after wins over Alex Austin of Knox West and Donovan Janicek of Brentwood.

Cozart does have a state championship as a team player as the Vikings had won four straight team titles before losing to Science Hill in the district this season.

His Tennessee High teammates, David Bieger and Andrew Istfan, lost a tough match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in boys' doubles to Ravenwood seniors Cliff Herring and Pranav Saravanan.

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