MURFREESBORO — The first day was a breeze for Mallory Jackson and Nela Holkova.
The Unicoi County juniors reached the finals of Class A/AA doubles at the TSSAA state tennis championships with a pair of easy wins on Thursday.
They rolled 6-0, 6-1 in a quarterfinal victory over Whitney Clack and Michelle Phillips of Hixson. Another straight-set victory followed, a 6-2, 6-4 win over Katie Joyce and Sarah Joyce of Chattanooga Notre Dame.
It meant a return to the finals for Jackson, who reached in girls’ singles a year ago.
“It’s different because it’s doubles,” Jackson said. “But, I’m so excited. Last year, I had an injury in my final and hopefully, that doesn’t happen this year. This should be fun.”
Now, she is joined by Holkova, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, whose cousin Matt Holka played on the Unicoi boys’ 2012 state championship team.
“I’m more nervous here than regular tournaments,” Holkova said. “It’s really a great experience.”
Also advancing to the finals was Greeneville sophomore Jaspal Mahal in boys’ singles. He won 6-1, 7-5 over Blake Savard of Chattanooga Grace in the quarterfinals and 6-1, 6-3 over Madison senior Paul Sands in the semifinals.
The Greeneville doubles duo of Jordan Hite and Malcolm Blair fell 6-1, 6-3 to Zayne Mills and Jack Zieman in the boys’ doubles quarterfinals. Javon Wilhoit was also bounced in the first round, losing a three-set match to Kylila Tucker of Signal Mountain.
Jackson and Holkova will face Leighton Porter and Lauren Valeriano of CAK in today’s championship set for noon.
“I’ve been extremely nervous, but once I get on the court and play the first few games, I’m fine,” Jackson said. “If we play like we should, I think we should win.”