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Science Hill tennis teams double up on Tennessee High

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 23, 2019 at 8:28 PM

Science Hill doubled up to win its rivalry match with Tennessee High on Tuesday evening at the Liberty Bell Tennis Courts.

The Hilltoppers won 7-2 over the Vikings to complete a season sweep. Science Hill led 4-2 after singles play and then rolled to the win by sweeping through doubles play. It came after the Hilltoppers had squeaked by with a 5-4 win earlier this season in Bristol.

“To sweep doubles is huge,” Science Hill coach Kelly Lane said. “My No. 1 team, I’m super proud of them, and then our No. 2 and 3 teams executed the game plan like I’ve never seen. It was a huge team win, even the guys who didn’t play today, they did a good job keeping us fired up. This is a family and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

One family member was hurting.

Drew Keith survived leg cramps to pull out his No. 4 singles match over the Vikings’ Brandon Istfan before teaming with Isaac Johnson at No. 2 doubles. They took an 8-0 victory over the Caleb Meyers and Istfan to clinch the overall match.

“I’ve never experienced leg cramps like that before,” Keith said. “It was my team and their cheering that got me through it. That was exactly what I needed from my team. We talk about how we are a family. It wasn’t the water and bananas, but their support that got me through it.

“It felt great when the two of us as seniors clinched the match. It will be a moment I will remember the rest of my life.”

Grady Owen and Gavin Nickels followed suit with an 8-2 win. Science Hill’s top two players, Griffin Nickels and Jacob Johnson, avenged earlier singles losses with an 8-5 win over the Vikings’ top seeds of David Bieger and Hagan Oakley to close out the match.

The ’Toppers were already in control after Isaac Johnson and Owen won their singles matches comfortably and Keith at No. 4 and Gavin Nickels at No. 6 singles pulled out wins in tiebreakers.

“The whole match came down to the singles matches. We lost at 1-2, but we had the wins at 3 and 5,” Lane said. “We needed any momentum we could get going into doubles. I can’t give my seniors enough credit. They stepped up when the match got tight and everyone was watching them. You could feel we had to have those wins and they came through. Gavin Nickels fought off four match points to win 15-13 in his third set.”

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GIRLS

Science Hill 7, Tennessee High 2

The Lady ’Toppers won five of six singles matches and two of three doubles for a larger margin of victory than the last time the teams played.

Shan Shan Liang at No. 4 singles had a 6-0, 6-0 win, while Allie Knox at No. 2 also had a quick match with a 6-2, 6-0 decision.

Allie Torbett at No. 3, Kirby Sampson at No. 5 and Emily Peoples at No. 6 also won in straight sets.

“Our girls really stepped up and we had a lot of improvement from the last time we played them,” Science Hill girls coach Erin Williams said. “Emily Peoples filled in at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles and did a fantastic job.

“Shan Shan and Kirby were very strong to help solidify our lead. Allie Knox had a very strong performance and Allie Torbett got in her groove and took care of business.”

Kara Lucchesi, Science Hill’s top player at No. 1, lost 6-0 in the first set to Keona Felitz, before falling 6-4 in the second set. Already clinched, Hilltoppers took care of business in doubles with Knox and Sampson, and Liang and Peoples teaming for wins.

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