The Science Hill boys tennis team (16-1) romped to a 4-0 win over Seymour in the Large Schools Region 1 team tennis final at Sevierville City Park on Friday. It took just over an hour as Science Hill advanced to the sectional round for the first time since 2013.
They will play Bearden in Wednesday's sectional matchup with a state berth on the line. Seymour finished its season at 11-2.
With his return game working well, Will Dyer at No. 5 was the first player off the court with a 6-1, 6-0 win over the Eagles' Ish Fernandez. Dyer almost missed this season after suffering a leg injury, but came back after talking to Science Hill coach Kelly Lane.
"This season has meant everything," Dyer said. "I was really on the fence about coming back after my injury. Coach Kelly convinced me to come back and it's been well worth it."
So what was the advice that Lane gave?
He obviously wanted Dyer back to strengthen the lineup, but the Science Hill coach said it was about much more than that.
"We preach memories a lot," Lane said. "I told him we had a chance to be a great team and that's something you want to be a part of. You don't want to look back in 20 years and wish you had played on a team with a great chance to make it to the state. You want to have those memories."
Drew Keith put the Hilltoppers in better position with his match at No. 4 singles, a 6-0, 6-0 romp over Seymour's Elijah Ballew. Continuing the trend, No. 3 Isaac Johnson put a 6-1, 6-0 thumping on the Eagles' Eric Woods.
TOP TWO SINGLES
Freshman Griffen Nickels at No. 1 finished it off with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Dylan Irvin. It meant senior Chris Morton's match at No. 2 was suspended with him holding a 6-3, 3-2 lead over Seymour's Darwin Nunn.
The Eagles' top players had a particularly hard time with the serves of Nickels and Morton.
"Getting out to an early lead was huge. Will Dyer played fast, got that early point for us and the other guys followed suit," Lane said. "Griffen Nickels and Chris Morton had tough competition at 1 and 2.
"They both had their serves working well and that's huge in tennis. When you can get that first serve in like that, you're in a good position to get the point. Chris didn't get to finish his match, but it was good to see how they played."
BROTHER VS. BROTHER
It will be brother vs. brother in the sectional round with Bearden coached by Tyler Lane, Kelly's older sibling. Science Hill's coach used pro wrestling-style shtick to joke about next Wednesday's match.
"He's older than me, but I proved who was the better athlete in high school and now I'm going to prove who's the best coach in the family," Kelly Lane said. "Just joking. It is brother vs. brother, but it's going to come down to the boys on the court. They've got their No. 4 player back who wasn't there when we beat them 6-3 earlier in the season so it's going to be a tough match."