Science Hill has seven advance in District 1 tennis

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 7, 2019 at 10:04 PM

KINGSPORT — Griffen Nickels led a strong contingent of Science Hill tennis players who advanced to the next round from the District 1 large schools tennis championships Tuesday at the Dobyns-Bennett Tennis Courts.

Nickels, the top-seed in boys’ singles, beat his teammate Isaac Johnson 6-3, 6-0 in the final. While Nickels got his desired result, he also used the tournament to work on his serve. He changed his swing entirely and has seen the effects of a faster serve, which proved hard for Johnson to return.

“My serve hadn’t been that good and I’ve been trying to make it good,” Nickels said. “My form wasn’t good and my serve was good as it was going to get. It wasn’t going to get any better, so I changed it up. I can tell it’s a lot faster now.”

Science Hill posted runner-up finishes in the other three finals.

David Bieger and Hagan Oakley from Tennessee High won 6-0, 6-0 over the Hilltoppers’ Jacob Johnson and Drew Keith in boys doubles. Keona Fielitz took a 6-3, 6-4 decision over Science Hill’s Allie Knox in girls singles.

Lainey Hill and Sydney Berry of Dobyns-Bennett beat Science Hill’s Kara Lucchesi and Allie Torbett 6-2, 6-1 in girls doubles.

Nickels and Johnson were competing, but also enjoying the experience of facing off as teammates.

“We were having fun,” Nickels said. “It was a good friendly match. I’ve had a good season so far and I love being part of this team.”

His teammates, Jacob Johnson and Keith, advanced to the final with a 6-0, 6-0 romp over Elizabethton’s Elijah Smith and Luke Carrier. They faced a Tennessee High tandem which had beaten another Science Hill combo, Grady Owen and Logan Moseley in the semifinals.

Next up for the Science Hill boys is a Region 1 team championship match against Morristown West on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.


Lucchesi and Torbett were pushed hard in a 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-7) win over Sullivan East’s Hannah Murray and Mackenzie Galloway in the girls doubles semifinal. Playing just 30 minutes later, they were defeated 6-1, 6-0 to the Dobyns-Bennett duo of Hill and Berry.

Knox, who teamed with her older sister Abby in the district tournament a year ago, put up a strong effort against Fielitz. It was an accomplishment to make it to the girls singles final with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-3 victory over Volunteer’s Makenna Peterson.

“It was about getting the ball back and that was important against the girl I was playing,” Knox said about the semifinal. “She had a really good, hard shot and it was hard to get back at some points. My backhand was a little off, but my forehand was working for me. I played doubles with my sister last year, so it was fun to play singles.”


The Region 1 large schools individual championships are scheduled tentatively for Monday, May 13 at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

Johnson City Press Videos