The Hilltoppers lost 4-0 to Brentwood in the TSSAA large schools boys team semifinals on Tuesday at Old Fort Park, but the score failed to show the competitive nature of the individual matches.
Isaac Johnson at No. 3 singles was leading his first set against the Bruins’ Ethan Ly 5-1 before falling 7-6 (6), 6-4. Likewise, Grady Owen at No. 5 singles fell 7-5, 6-4 in a close match to James Smith.
Griffen Nickels, the Hilltoppers’ No. 1 player, was tied 6-4, 4-6, 1-1 with Brentwood’s Donovan Janicek in the third set when they were pulled off the court at the overall match’s conclusion.
“I’m so proud of the boys,” Science Hill coach Kelly Lane said. “We talked about battling to the end and you saw it in every single match. We started so we well, but whenever we got down and it looked bad, I still had the feeling we could come back, win two matches, send it to doubles and pull it out. They gave it everything they had.”
Jacob Johnson at No. 2 singles and Drew Keith at No. 4 were competitive in their first sets.
Johnson fell 6-4, 6-1 to Brentwood’s Hunter Johnson. Keith, his school’s valedictorian, had a passing grade with several shots in the first set before losing 6-4, 6-0 to William Smith.
Isaac Johnson, Keith and Owen were three seniors who played in the semifinals, but the senior class also consisted of three others as Lane pointed out.
“These seniors have meant the world to this program,” Lane said. “Logan Moseley, Gavin Nickels and Jimmy Lu, who didn’t play this tournament, I love those boys. I got choked up at our senior banquet thinking about them not being there with us next year and how it’s going to be different. They’ve all meant so much to our program.”