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Semifinals set for District 1 tennis tournament

Joe Avento • May 6, 2019 at 9:08 PM

The preliminaries are over for the District 1 Large Schools high school tennis tournament. Now the real fun begins.

The opening rounds were played Monday at the Liberty Bell Tennis Complex, and a long day of action set up Tuesday’s semifinals and championship matches, which will be played at Dobyns-Bennett’s courts.

By the end of the day, Science Hill boys’ coach Kelly Lane had a big smile on his face.

“It couldn’t have gone any better for the boys,” Lane said. “We won every match we played and set ourselves up for tomorrow. We’re looking forward to another great day.”

The top four seeds in boys’ and girls’ singles all won both of their matches, setting up the expected semifinals. Top-seeded Keona Fielitz of Tennessee High will face Emily Cai of Dobyns-Bennett, and Science Hill’s Allie Knox will take on Makenna Peterson of Volunteer. None of the top four girls was tested during Monday’s action.

No. 1 in the boys’ field, Griffen Nickels of Science Hill, is set to play Caden Myers of Tennessee High, while Sullivan South’s Josh Manis will face Science Hill’s Isaac Johnson. Nickels was not pushed on Monday, dropping one game in his two matches.

Manis, seeded second, won what was perhaps the most entertaining match of the day, holding off Tennessee High’s Brandon Istfan 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

Doubles was a different story, as a few upsets dotted the brackets.

Science Hill’s Grady Owen and Logan Moseley, seeded 13th in the field mostly because Moseley played singles much of the year, pulled off a couple of surprises, including beating Dobyns-Bennett’s Ben Allen and Luke Morris on their way to a semifinal bid.

“This is really one of the first times they’ve played together,” Lane said. “When we made the brackets, one of the biggest matches we saw was the match against Dobyns-Bennett. They were the fourth seed in this tournament. We felt like if we could start fast, we could hang because of the emphasis we put on doubles in practice. But we knew they were a really good team. Grady served so well and Logan was actually solid at the net. They played great tennis. It was a really fun match to watch.”

Also advancing to the doubles semifinals were Tennessee High’s top-seeded duo of David Bieger and Hagan Oakley, who will face the surprising Hilltoppers’ pair.

Science Hill’s top doubles team of Jacob Johnson and Drew Keith also advanced and will meet Elizabethton’s Elijah Smith and Luke Carrier in the semis.

In girls’ doubles, the top-seeded pair of Lainey Hill and Sydney Berry gave up one game in two matches while cruising to the semifinals, where they will take on the surprise of the girls’ field, Meredith St. Clair and Allie Jordan of Sullivan South. The 13th-seeded duo won a couple of matches to stay alive another day.

Also advancing in girls’ doubles were Science Hill’s Allie Torbett and Kara Lucchesi, and Sullivan East’s Hannah Murray and Mackenzie Galloway.

“I’m hoping Lainey Hill and Sydney Berry will walk away conference champions tomorrow,” D-B coach Sara Wallingford said. “They are on a roll. I’m proud of them. I think the more they play, the better they will play.”

The semifinals begin at 4 p.m. with the finals set for 6 p.m.

“There will be some great matches tomorrow,” Science Hill girls’ coach Erin Williams said. “I’m excited to see what my girls can do. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I sure hope it falls our way.”

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