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Science Hill boys' tennis team headed to state tournament

Joe Avento • May 15, 2019 at 7:54 PM

Science Hill boys’ tennis coach Kelly Lane really didn’t have to say anything. His smile said it all.

Lane was beaming after his Hilltoppers earned a berth in the state semifinals with a 4-0 Sectional victory over Knox Catholic on Wednesday at the Liberty Bell Tennis Complex. It’s Science Hill’s first state berth since 2010.

“We couldn’t draw it up any better,” Lane said. “It really was a perfect day.”

The Hilltoppers seized control when Jacob Johnson and Isaac Johnson won their matches within seconds of each other, giving Science Hill a 2-0 lead.

Jacob Johnson beat Jack Neuman, 6-1, 7-6, winning the tiebreaker 7-0. Isaac Johnson topped Josh Borja 6-3, 6-3.

“Jacob and Isaac Johnson, for them to get those first points was huge,” Lane said. “We knew we wanted to start fast. It does so much for you in a match.”

Jacob was shaking hands with his opponent when he heard Isaac yell after clinching his match as well.

“It was unbelievable,” Jacob Johnson said. “I didn’t really think it was happening. This is just so unreal. That felt good. It was really nice to get that first one clinched. It was a little nerve wracking.”

When Grady Owen came in with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Josh Sherringham, that left one point between the Hilltoppers and Murfreesboro.

Drew Keith clinched the state berth with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Abe Atwood.

“Two seniors took over,” Lane said. “I couldn’t ask any more than to have senior Grady Owen and Drew Keith close it out on their racquet and put us to Murfreesboro.”

With the sectional championship clinched, the No. 1 singles match was abandoned. Science Hill’s Griffen Nickels won the first set in a tiebreaker against Davis Clem. The two were on serve in the second set when the Hilltoppers ended the proceedings.

“It feels amazing knowing only four teams are left,” Lane said. “To be one of the final four is special. This group has grown so close. We’ve talked about being on the court, off the court, and some struggles I’ve had personally. They’ve been there for me and hopefully I’ve been there for them. They deserve this. We’re not done yet. We’re peaking at the right time.”

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