CLEVELAND, Tenn. — There are a lot of things that Katarina Saskova doesn't understand about life in the United States. Tennis isn't one of them.
The Bradley Central player was among those who advanced to the semifinals of the District 5-AAA tennis tournament at Lee University with first-day wins. Saskova, who was the top seed in the singles draw, won her match 6-1, 6-1 and will face Cleveland's Heidi Barringer when play begins at 11 this morning.
Saskova, who's from the Czech Republic, had plans to attend the Atlanta Braves baseball game tonight, but those plans are on hold if she wins her first match because the final is set to begin at 5.
"I was a little nervous before the match because people were thinking I should win," Saskova said. "Once I got out there, I was OK and I played good, but tomorrow will be harder because I really want to win the first match. It's the more important match to me, because if I win that one I'll go to the finals and I automatically make it to the region."
The district uses a system that rewards the school with a point for every win in the individual tournament. Cleveland's boys and Soddy-Daisy's girls won the regular season, but should another team win more overall matches in the individual tournament, there will be a one-match playoff Wednesday.
Cleveland's boys didn't lose a match Monday and already have eight points and a three-point lead over Ooltewah, their nearest competitor.
Soddy-Daisy's girls are in a fight in their draw, currently trailing Cleveland (five points) and Walker Valley (four). The Lady Trojans have Chloe Mitchell and Abigail Ellis remaining in doubles, while Cleveland has a pair of singles players remaining (Heidi Barringer and Briley Moore). Walker Valley's Rachel Tarver and Reed Jones are left for the Lady Mustangs.
• The District 7-A/AA tournament also started Monday at the Champions Club, and Chattanooga Christian, Notre Dame and Signal Mountain are all well represented in the finals, which will begin this afternoon at 3:30.
The girls singles' final will be between CCS's Hannah Henry and Notre Dame's Danika Dorris. Signal's Allwyn Fisher with Kylila Tucker and Sarah Faith Ingell with Mary Margaret Haywood will be in the doubles championship.
The boys' singles draw had the closest thing to an upset when Notre Dame's Andrew Lisy defeated second-seeded Joe Sliger of CCS. Lisy will face Signal's Jason Morris, who had a battle but defeated Notre Dame's Thomas Gaudin in three sets.
The doubles draw will feature the top seeds, as Notre Dame's Charles Jabaley and J.R. Davis will go against Signal's Zach Brown and Luke Blentlinger.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.