D-B tennis duo advances to state

Tanner Cook • Updated May 14, 2018 at 9:05 PM

SEVIERVILLE — A scorching day at the Sevierville City Park on Monday produced one title for local high school tennis teams at the Region 1 Large schools singles and doubles tournament.

The Dobyns-Bennett girls’ doubles team of Lainey Hill and Willa Rogers collected another title and earned a berth in the state tournament next week in Murfreesboro.

In the semifinals, Rogers and Hill made quick work of the District 2 runner-up from Jefferson County, Courtney Worley and Haley Seale, winning 6-0, 6-0.

On the other side of the side of the bracket, Science Hill’s Abby and Ally Knox knocked out Sydney Finchum and Paige Longmead of Greeneville to get to the final and recreate the district title match all over again.

Like two weeks ago, Rogers and Hill won the title, beating the Knox sisters 6-2, 6-1.

“It’s really cool to get to state for the third time and for the first time in doubles,” Hill said. “I always knew that when Willa came up that we’d play doubles together.”

“We’ve been planning on playing doubles for a long time and it’s pretty cool to get to state my first year,” Rogers said.


D-B’s Emily Cai came in as the second seed in the top half of the bracket as the District 1 runner-up, losing to Tennessee High’s McKenzie Grady in the final last week. Cai fought hard, but Greeneville’s Sydni Lollar ousted her in the semifinals.

On the other side, Grady was upset by Morristown West’s Anna Kopitok.

In the final, which was the last match of the day, a thrilling finish saw Lollar advance to the state tournament, winning 6-3, 7-6 with a 7-4 win on the tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Lollar was up 4-0 at one point, but lost the advantage as Kopitok would not go away quietly. It looked like toward the end of the match that the heat was taking its toll on both players.


David Bieger and Andrew Istfan waltzed through the first round against Daniel Phillips and Matthew Saloney of Morristown West, but they had to wait quite a while to face an opponent.

The other match between Science Hill’s Griffen Nickels and Isaac Johnson and Seymour’s Dylan Johnson and Darwin Nunn went three sets with a tiebreaker in the second set. There was a lot of shot making on both sides, but the Hilltopper duo came out victorious and faced the Vikings in the final.

In the final, much like the district finals, Bieger and Istfan took the win home for Tennessee High and advanced to the state tournament, snatching the win 6-1, 6-4.

“I am super proud of the effort we gave today. When you look at the effort from last week to this week, we came out with a game plan and executed better this time,” Science Hill head coach Kelly Lane said. “We had our chances in the second set when we were up. There were a lot of deuce points and sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t.”


It was another repeat of the district final between Tennessee High’s Stone Cozart and Science Hill’s Chris Morton.

It was a hard fought match, but Cozart again came out on top 6-1, 6-4, but it was not without a fight. The two friends off the court played eight games to deuce and Morton looked like he was frustrating Cozart in the second set, especially. However, of those eight deuce games, Cozart came out on top six times.

“Chris gave Stone everything huge wanted,” Lane said. “You don’t see Stone rattled very much and if you go half and half on those deuce points, that whole first set is flipped. I was really proud of Chris. He gave it everything.”


The D-B girls team will play for the sectional team title on Wednesday at Knox Catholic.

The Science Hill boys team will play Bearden on Thursday in Knoxville as well. There will also be some family bragging rights on the line as Lane’s brother, Tyler, is the head tennis coach of the Bulldogs.

“We beat them 6-3 earlier in the year,” Lane said. “We’re going to have to play a better match this time to beat them. They will be ready… I’ve alway looked up to (Tyler) because he’s a great role model, but there will be a lot of trash talking on Thursday.”

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