MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A little rest will end up going a long way for Daniel Pare.
The McCallie senior had a bye in the first round of the Division II-AA individual singles state tennis championships, while his semifinal opponent -- defending singles champion Walker Sims of Memphis University School -- had a three-set first-round match. Pare took advantage, jumping on Sims early and earning a spot in the finals with a 6-2, 6-2 win Thursday at Old Fort.
Pare will be one of four area private-school finalists when tournament play resumes today at 10 a.m. EDT. Defending girls' singles champion Samantha Caswell of Baylor will try for a repeat, while GPS's Emma McCallie and Michelle Fleenor will be in the doubles championship.
"He was pretty tired, and I came out fresh," Pare said. "I served a lot better than I had been and got a lot of shots back. It was a good win, but the next guy is just as tough."
His opponent, Marshall Sharp, won the individual title in 2010 and 2011 and fell to Sims in the 2012 title match.
McCallie and Fleenor were hoping for an all-GPS final in doubles, but Hutchison's Francie George and Gracie Donoghue ruined those chances when they beat Hannah Morrow and Mary Claire Spann in the first round. The remaininig Bruisers duo will face Harpeth Hall's Emma Alsup and Liza Southwick -- whom they've beat twice this year -- in the championship match.
"We had a team effort today," McCallie said. "We converted the points we needed to, listened to our coaches, and some points went our way."
Said Fleenor: "We really wanted a team title, but the chance to get an individual title is just as sweet."
They fell short of their goal of a team title due to Baylor, whose top singles player, Caswell, will face Harpeth Hall's Hannah Maclellan today. For the second straight season, injuries forced the Lady Red Raiders junior to forfeit her final day of the East/Middle region tournament, giving her a fourth-place finish and causing her to have to face the top seed from the West, who has been St. Benedict's Grace Summers.
Despite an ankle injury, Caswell pulled out a three-set win over Summers before beating Harpeth Hall's Anna LeBleu in the semifinals. She will play Harpeth Hall's Hannah Maclellan in the title match.
"I've just been fighting through [the injury]," Caswell said. "I don't know how I won today, but winning an individual title is just a bonus. We wanted the team title and we got it."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.