published Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Hixson tops Signal for state tennis trip

Baylor School's Marco Mandic hits an overhead finishing out the point while playing with teammate Ethan Palisoc in the #2 Doubles matchup against Ensworth at home on May 16.
Baylor School's Marco Mandic hits an overhead finishing out the point while playing with teammate Ethan Palisoc in the #2 Doubles matchup against Ensworth at home on May 16.
Photo by Dan Henry.
  • photo
    Girls Preparatory School's Michelle Fleenor returns a backhand while playing in the #1 singles matchup against Ensworth at Baylor School on May 16.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Kevin Nguyen and Carl Phillips had a pretty rough beginning to their week, losing in the Region 3-A/AA tennis doubles championship match after holding a one-set lead. The week ended a lot better for them, though.

The Hixson duo played a big role in earning the Wildcats' first-ever trip to Spring Fling, as their 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles clinched a 4-2 team victory over Signal Mountain.

The Wildcats (14-3) held a 3-2 edge after singles with wins from Alex Condra, Richard Vuong and Nguyen, meaning they needed only one win in two doubles matches.

"We came in knowing that we were going to have to fight for the win, and we didn't want to give up any points," said Nguyen, the team's lone senior. "Carl and I used Monday as a learning experience and learned from our mistakes from that day."

Hixson coach Raul Fernandez focused his attention on singles during the week, and it paid off with the three wins. Due to Signal having to play a Thursday match against Murfreesboro Central Magnet for the Region 4 title, the Wildcats didn't even know their opponent until around 9 p.m. Thursday.

The Eagles (12-3), who earned program-first district and region championships this season, had singles wins from Zach Brown and Grant Williams. Brown and Jason Morris were ahead in No. 1 doubles at the time the match was called.

"We definitely had a good year with our first-ever district and region titles," Signal coach Renato Mizutani said. "The future looks bright for us."

GPS, Raiders in semis

Girls Preparatory School earned a spot in the Division II-AA state semifinals with a 7-0 win over Ensworth on Friday at Baylor. The Bruisers (10-4) had singles wins from Michelle Fleenor, Jennie McBrayer, Maddox Bandy, Danielle Simms, Analisa Stratienko and Virginia Hammond. The tandems of Fleenor with McBrayer, Bandy with Simms and Stratienko with Hammond also were victorious; doubles counts for only one team point in DII-AA.

The Baylor boys also defeated Ensworth 7-0 to advance back to the state final four. Marko Mandic, Jack Gray, Alec Kadrie, Stewie Austin, Barrett Shock and Shams Sohani had singles wins for the Red Raiders (11-4), while Chad Woodham and Cooper Long, Mandic and Ethan Palisoc and Shock and Austin won in doubles.

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

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