In the quarterfinals of the Large School singles bracket, the Science Hill sophomore faced Murfreesboro Central standout Nathan Zou and came up on the short end of a 6-1, 6-2 decision at the Adams Tennis Complex on Thursday morning.
“Griffen had an incredible year for us,” said Science Hill head coach Kelly Lane. “It was a great accomplishment to advance to the state tournament as a sophomore. He made significant improvements in all parts of his game, and I can’t wait to see how much better he will be for his junior season.”
Nickels stood up strong against Zou in the first four games. He won some points and pushed Zou. But Zou won three deuce points, and Nickels was unable to gain a strong measure of momentum in the first set.
“It would have been a whole other match if those had gone the other direction,” said Nickels.
THE TOUGHNESS OF ZOU
Nickels gave credit to Zou for having a strong overall game, mentally and physically.
“He’s just a solid player,” said Nickels. “He’s a senior and this is his last tournament before college. He played well. I couldn’t get over the hump, and I couldn’t make him change his game.”
Nickels said it wouldn’t surprise him if Zou left Murfreesboro with a state singles title in hand.
Nickels said there are areas of his game he needs to improve as he moves into his junior season.
“I need to work harder,” he said. “And I need to mature more.”
BEST PARTS OF THE SEASON
Teammates were a big piece of the puzzle for Nickels.
“It was just how our team became not just teammates, but we became close,” said Nickels. “We did a lot of stuff for the team to be closer. It’s not just a game, it’s about friends and memories.”
HILL, BERRY REACH FINAL
Lainey Hill and Sydney Berry romped to the finals in large schools girls doubles competition.
The Dobyns-Bennett duo defeated Julia Marsh and Lucy Higgins of Lincoln County 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinal round and then beat Sydney Dattilo and Madeline Benson of East Hamilton by the same score in the semifinals.
They will face Alex Torre and Georgia Fischer of Brentwood in Friday’s championship match.
Hill is making her second straight championship appearance after teaming with Willa Rogers to make the final last year.
Hagan Oakley and David Bieger of Tennessee High also advanced to the championship round in large school boys doubles. The Vikings overcame losing the first set to defeat Knoxville West’s Stefan Steiger and Oliver Bonovich 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. They won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1 against Kyle Shaver and Brandon Newell of Rhea County in the semifinals.
The Tennessee High duo will face Jackson Stone and Ethan Eisenhauer of Ravenwood in Friday’s final.
Sullivan North’s Adam Nelson won his boys small schools quarterfinal match 6-3, 6-1 over Sidney Marques of Columbia Academy. He lost to Evan Carr of L&N Stem 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinal round.
Keona Fielitz of Tennessee High lost 6-2, 6-0 to Romane Britt of Collierville in the girls large school singles quarterfinals.
In a battle of twin sisters, the Halls duo of Jordan and Cameron Reed defeated Johnson County’s Taylor and Olivia Cox 6-3, 6-2 in the small school girls doubles quarterfinals. It was just the second loss for the Cox sisters this season with the other coming against Dobyns-Bennett.