published Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

CCS girls win tennis title

Chattanooga Christian School's Gracie Smith reaches to return the ball against Columbia Academy.
Chattanooga Christian School's Gracie Smith reaches to return the ball against Columbia Academy.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
May 20-24, 2013 Murfeesboro, TN

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Gracie Smith didn't waste much time embracing her new nickname. After the past couple of days, "Miss Clutch" seems to fit her well.

Smith came through with what was the clinching victory Wednesday, helping the Lady Chargers claim their first A/AA state title since 2008 with a 4-0 victory over Columbia Academy at Old Fort State Park.

Ellie Henry, Hannah Henry and Caraline Redburg had the other CCS (15-1) singles victories. Allie Sullivan was locked in a three-set dual at No. 3 singles at the time of Smith's victory.

"I was a little nervous, but this is what we had trained all season for," she said. "I just put those things into action."

She also came through with a big win in Tuesday's semifinal match against Christian Academy of Knoxville, as her win gave the team a 3-2 lead heading into doubles. The team victory also wipes what was a bit of a bitter taste out of the mouths of some CCS upperclassmen, who lost 4-3 in the 2011 title match to Christ Presbyterian Academy -- a match they led 3-2 heading into doubles.

"I was really destroyed then because I thought it was my last match with coach [Sue] Webb, and I lost the deciding doubles match," Ellie Henry said. "Last year, my sister and I won doubles, but I've wanted a team title in all five of my years here at CCS, and we knew the preparation and the work we needed to win."

Webb stepped down to take a position as Covenant College head coach after the 2011 season, but came back to coach this season with the Lady Chargers. She will be heading up the middle school program after this season and turning over reins to Jeannie Henry.

"The girls are very deserving of this," Webb said. "They were such a great group of players and were so close -- like a family. They are very deserving of this."

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

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