MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The McCallie School tennis team gave coach Eric Voges plenty to worry about before the doubles portion of its Division II-AA state semifinal match against Montgomery Bell Academy on Tuesday. A slow start didn't help.
A strong finish alleviated any fears.
The Blue Tornado earned a big win at No. 1 doubles and rolled into the state championship match with a 4-1 win over the Big Red at Old Fort Tennis Courts in Murfreesboro. McCallie (10-2) faces Memphis University School, which ended Baylor's season at 11-5 with a 4-0 win Tuesday.
McCallie took the doubles point with wins by Taylor Burgan and Conner O'Brien at No. 3 doubles and Cody Gubin and Turner Voges at No. 1. The latter duo fought from down a break to pull out the deciding victory. The Blue Tornado followed that up with singles wins by Gubin, Burgan and O'Brien to ice the match.
"To play in the state tournament like we did -- when everyone is wired in a match that could go either way -- I'm really proud of how the guys performed," Voges said. "To beat a great MBA team 4-1 and to be in control of the other two matches that didn't finish, that result is nice to see. Our doubles didn't start out great -- we've had trouble playing great doubles all year -- but Cody and Turner hung in there and got a win that produced an emotional swing into singles, which meant we didn't have quite as much pressure."
McCallie lost 4-3 to MUS on April 24.
In Class A/AA, Hixson fell 4-3 to Christ Presbyterian Academy. The Wildcats led 3-0 after wins by Carl Phillips, Kevin Nguyen and Alex Condra but dropped the next two singles matches to force doubles.
The No. 1 doubles match for Condra and Richard Vuong against CPA's Hunter Pishie and Jack Zieman went back and forth and ended in a tiebreaker won 10-8 by the Lions duo.
Hixson, which loses only Nguyen, finished the program's most successful season at 14-4 -- only five years removed from not winning a single match.
"We could have swung it," Hixson coach Raul Fernandez said. "We lost a couple of three-setters in singles, and if either goes our way, we don't even play doubles. We hope to be back here next year. Kevin will be a big hole to fill -- he had a lot of wins for us at 3 and 4 [singles] -- but we'll reload and hopefully come back next year."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.