published Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Walker Valley senior Ben Watson earns state trip

According to his coach, Walker Valley senior Ben Watson’s play in the Region 3-AAA individual tennis tournament was “a long time coming.”

As a result, he will be going to the state tournament.

Watson beat McMinn County’s Matthew Pannell 6-2, 6-2 at Lee University in Cleveland for his first region championship. The region tournament mirrored the District 5-AAA championships, with Cleveland’s girls sweeping the singles and doubles crowns and McMinn’s boys’ doubles team claiming victory.

The champions all qualify for next week’s Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

Watson let Pannell’s play dictate his.

“I wanted to attack him early and not let him get into a rhythm,” Watson said. “He started to lose consistently, so after a while I just started to let him make mistakes.”

Said Walker Valley coach Chris Green: “This kid has worked to get to this point. It was a long time coming for him to advance to state.”

Cleveland senior Catherine Jordan defeated Soddy-Daisy’s Callie Brannon 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to win the singles crown, while doubles partners Kelsey Cantrell and Esha Rock defeated McMinn’s Taylor Thompson and Victoria Williams 6-1, 6-0.

McMinn’s Fenil Patel and Michael Barlok defeated Rhea County’s Nick McWherter and Dylan Coulter 6-3, 6-3.

• In Region 3-A/AA at the Champions Club, Collegedale Academy’s Alicia Salazar defeated Red Bank’s Katie Loftin in three sets to earn the school’s first trip for a girl to the state tournament. The same can be said for East Hamilton’s Taylor Johnson and Hilleary Chandler, who defeated Red Bank’s Amy Metcalf and Kristen Camp 6-3, 6-1.

Arts & Sciences’ Jackson Lenoir defeated Central’s John Mitchell 6-3, 6-2 to advance in boys’ singles a year after going with teammate Andrew Ball in doubles, while Collegedale’s Patrick O’Brien and Jordan Evans defeated CSAS’s Ball and Ian Derthick in straight sets three days after dropping a pivotal match in the region team championship.

• In Region 4-A/AA at the Champions Club, three local schools will be sending players to the state tournament. In girls’ doubles, Chattanooga Christian’s Ellie Henry and Gretchen Rowe defeated Notre Dame’s Katie Joyce and Callie Voges in straight sets, and in boys’ doubles, the Irish’s John Dorris and Nick Wurm defeated David Herberich and Nick Ryan 6-4, 6-1.

Signal Mountain’s Luke Wolfe defeated CCS’s Stewart Fellers 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the state singles tournament. Teammate Danielle Linhart was defeated by Central Magnet’s Carly Hatcliff 6-3, 6-3 in the girls’ singles final.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/gh3sports.

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