Nela Holkova, left, and Mallory Jackson celebrate their title. (Douglas Fritz/Johnson City Press)
MURFREESBORO — If it takes a secret word or a little foreign language to help win a state title, go for it.
Most of all, it looked like Unicoi County’s duo of Mallory Jackson and Nela Holkova were having fun. They laughed at their mista kes, what few they made, and rolled to a 6-0, 6-3 win over Christian Academy of Knoxville’s Leighton Porter and Lauren Valeriano in the girls doubles title match of the Class A-AA state tennis tournament Friday at Old Fort Park.
Jackson said she keeps a smile to combat negativity.
“A major weakness of mine is getting down on myself,” said Jackson. “So I just think about happy stuff, and try to keep it positive. It helps me play better.”
Meanwhile, Holkova said a couple of things helped her avoid any title-game pressure.
“We have a secret word, like ‘hamburger,’ ” said Holkova, an exchange student from the Czech Republic. “It makes us happy, and nobody knows what we’re talking about. Only we know what is going on. And sometimes I talk to myself in Czech.”
Said Jackson with a laugh, “I don’t know what she is saying.”
Jackson and Holkova were on point throughout the first set. They pretty much dominated the action, and both players frequently attacked the net and forced CAK to make quick decisions.
“We were aggressive,” said Holkova. “I think that’s how it’s supposed to be when you are playing doubles.”
However, in the second set, the Lady Blue Devils seemed to lose a bit of their edge. CAK’s duo took advantage and closed within 4-3.
“After you win that first set, you tend to relax a little,” said Jackson. “For a few games, we got a little lackadaisical. When we realized it was getting near the end, we said we had to finish it and we did.”
There really wasn’t a lot of drama in the match. There were a few deuce points, but most points were over in a flash without long volleys.
Jackson joined her brother, Reed, as a state champion. Reed was part of the Unicoi County boys’ team title in 2012, and also joined forces with Pascal Koch win a doubles championship.
Holkova joined cousin Matt Holka, who was part of last year’s title team before returning to the Czech Republic.
“I was thinking about my cousin,” said Holkova. “He’s not the only one with a title. It’s awesome.”
Jackson lost in the state singles final last year.
“Last year I was really upset because I thought I should have won,” said Jackson. “This year I’m extremely happy.”
In other matches involving area players, Greeneville’s Jaspal Mahal came up short in the Class A-AA boys singles championship. He lost 6-2, 6-2 to Lucas Spickard of Christ Presbyterian Academy.
In Class AAA girls doubles, it turned out the semifinal match between Science Hill’s Katie Deal and Hope Forbush and Ravenwood’s Iris Hao and Katie Fitt wasn’t a championship match after all. Murfreesboro Siegel’s Ashlee Boles and Marissa Kovach beat Hao and Fitt, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
And in Class AAA boys’ singles, Tennessee High’s Matt Henson lost 6-3, 6-2 to Brentwood’s Maxx Lipman.