Five 'Toppers advance to tennis regionals

Tanner Cook • Updated May 9, 2018 at 9:54 PM

The District 1 large school tennis tournament on the campus of Science Hill at the Liberty Bell Tennis Complex had to be pushed back a day due to the rain, but the athletes got a glorious day to play on Wednesday afternoon.

Tennessee High has dominated the district tournament in recent years and this one was no different as they racked up in both singles and doubles titles.


The Vikings’ Stone Cozart cruised through the boys’ singles bracket on both Monday and Wednesday.

He quickly dispatched of Will Dyer of Science Hill 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals, setting up a showdown with Science Hill’s Chris Morton who defeated Sullivan South’s Josh Manis 6-0, 6-2.

Cozart beat Morton 6-0, 6-1 in the championship final.


It looked like it was destined to be an all-Tennessee High final as Rose Rosser and McKenzie Grady were on opposite sides of the bracket and both made it to the semifinals.

Grady held up her end of the deal, beating Science Hill’s Kara Lucchesi, but not without a fight as Grady won in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. Lucchesi made a remarkable run to get back into the match after dropping the first set, but looked to have run out of gas in the deciding set.

Rosser had a much tougher time dealing with Dobyns-Bennett’s Emily Cai. Rosser took the first set, 6-3, but Cai look to get everything clicking by returning everything Rosser hit, seemingly.

Cai rallied and won the second set, 6-3 and had all the momentum going into the final set.

Cai dug herself in a hole early, down 4-0 and 5-2, but rallied to win the set 7-5 and upset Rosser. The match lasted nearly two and a half hours out in the heat of the mid-afternoon sun.

Grady was able to take advantage of the tired Cai with a 6-2 and 6-1 win in the final.


Science Hill’s Griffin Nickels and Isaac Johnson came in the No. 1 seed in the tourney, but ultimately came up short 6-2, 6-1 against Tennessee High’s David Bieger and Andrew Istfan. Both squads advanced to the regional doubles championships.

“It’s awesome to have five kids advance to the regionals,” Science Hill coach Kelly Lane said. “We only had one player make it to the regionals last year, so this was a huge step forward for our program. Our boys’ double match was closer than the score indicated. I think we learned a lot today and will be ready for Monday at the regionals.”


The Lady Indians’ duo of Willa Rogers and Lainey Hill struck gold with a dominating victory 6-0, 6-0 over Ally and Abby Knox of Science Hill.

Rogers, the younger sister of former D-B star Josie Rogers, is only a freshman. Hill made the individual state tournament the last two years and is handling the transition to playing doubles quite well.

“Lainey was hitting a lot of good serves and that was setting up a lot of volleys for me,” Rogers said. “We were also trying to be aggressive at the net.”

Hill added: “We feel really good about going forward. We have really big hopes and we hope we can make it to the state tournament as a doubles and hope that the team can make it as well.”


All the finalists in the district will move on to the respective tournaments in the coming week.

The Dobyns-Bennett Lady Indians will play Greeneville on Thursday at Tusculum College for the girls regional team title, with action slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.

Science Hill plays Friday against Morristown West or Seymour. The winner of that match was not known when the district tournament ended.

The individual regional tournament will be in Sevierville on May 14.

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