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Unicoi's Jackson, Holkova reach state

May 13th, 2013 9:14 pm by Douglas Fritz

Unicoi's Jackson, Holkova reach state

ELIZABETHTON — Unicoi County's international duo took care of business.
Mallory Jackson and Czech Republic's Nela Holkova rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Chuckey-Doak's Jordan Murphy and Makayla Bowman to win the Region 1-A/AA girls doubles championship Monday at the Elizabethton tennis courts.
The win punched a ticket to next week's state tournament in Murfreesboro for Jackson and Holkova. All region winners earned berths in the Spring Fling, where the individual tournament begins May 23.
In the other girls championship match, South Greene's Javan Wilhoit won the singles title with a 6-1, 7-6 decision over Greeneville's Sydney Davis.
On the boys' side, Greeneville dominated with Jaspal Mahal winning the singles title, and Greeneville's duo of Malcom Blair and Jordan Hite beating their teammates in the finals.
Holkova and Jackson really weren't pushed throughout the day. They won their semifinal match over Greeneville's Madison Hite and Caroline Quarles, losing just one game.
Jackson said the duo was confident heading into both matches.
“There's always nervousness because you never know how you will play on the court, regardless of whether you were hitting it good coming into the match,” said Jackson. “But we were pretty confident.”
Holkova said the strength of the doubles team is with her at the net and Jackson in the back.
“That's probably the best game we play,” said Holkova. “I try to be aggressive. We just had to keep the ball in the court.”
Jackson made it to the state singles finals last year as a sophomore, losing to Fayetteville's Skylar McDonald, who was an eighth-grader. This year, she teamed with Holkova, and has designs on getting a state title.
“I know a lot of the girls who will be at the state, and we will have to be at the top of our game,” said Jackson. “It will be difficult, but I don't think it will be super difficult. I think it will be a little more intense.”
Holkova said she is excited to have a chance to earn a title — like her cousin, Matt Holka, did last year as part of Unicoi County's boys' championship team.
“I am pretty excited,” said Holkova, who is an exchange student. “He told me everything, and how excited he was to win a championship.”
As for Mahal, he won his second straight region singles title. He defeated teammate Griffin Leonard, 6-0, 6-3.
“I feel like I played pretty good,” said Mahal. “My footwork was not good at times, but other than that everything was great.”
Mahal said he believes he has a shot at the state title after losing in last year's state semifinals.
“Last year I had a tough match in the first round, and it took everything out of me,” said Mahal. “This year I'm more fit. I feel like I can last longer, and I think that will give me a chance to win.”
Wilhoit was strong in the first set against Davis, but things got much more hotly contested in the second set. Still, Wilhoit was able to battle through and earn the state berth.
In the boys' doubles final, Blair and Hite powered past Logan Dickenson and Elliott Snelson. They won the first set 6-3, and then ran away for a 6-0 victory in the second set.

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