published Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Tennis Patriots historic

In 22 seasons as head coach of the Arts & Sciences tennis program, Jerry Pate never has had a team as deep as his 2011 boys’ squad.

And the Patriots have given Pate something else he’s never had — an opportunity to coach in the state tournament.

Defeating Notre Dame 4-2 on Friday at Warner Park, Arts & Sciences advances to the Spring Fling for the first time in the program’s history.

The Patriots will face Christian Academy of Knoxville, who defeated Greeneville 4-0 in another sectional matchup, Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Old Fort State Park tennis courts in Murfreesboro.

“I thought we took care of business today,” Pate said. “We felt our depth was going to be a deciding factor, and it turned out to be the key.

“We’re pretty strong at 1 through 5 [singles], and that helps.”

The team’s conditioning and will to win helped, too. The Patriots’ Alex Evers trailed Kyle Long 5-1 in the third set but fought back to win 8-6 in a tiebreaker. The two also had a first-set tiebreaker, which Evers won.

Andrew Ball and Raja Moughrabi enjoyed straight-set victories, while Notre Dame’s John Dorris and Nick Wurm claimed the Irish’s two victories — both in three-set matches.

The match went down to doubles, with Evers and Jackson Lenoir taking an 8-0 victory over Long and Tyler Ross in the No. 2 pairing.

“The guys have always been determined,” Pate said. “I try to teach the guys that a match is never over until the last point is won. The guys believe in that, and it helped us out all season long as well as today.”

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