In recent matches, Baylor boys' tennis coach Philip Johnson felt his team was on the verge of doing something special. Over the weekend at the Rotary Invitational, the Red Raiders did just that -- by winning.
Baylor finished with 20.5 points, outdistancing second-place St. Xavier by three and region foe Montgomery Bell Academy by four to defend its A Division team title. The Baylor girls also repeated, with five more team points than the field.
The boys got singles championships from Jackson Pride, Marko Mandic, Eric Roddy and Jack Gray, while Roddy and Mandic also won in doubles.
"It was a total team effort," Johnson said. "It's the first time this season that we've done that, and to get four victories today was amazing. Every position stepped up, and that's what it's all about -- the team atmosphere and putting it all together."
Baylor's Maggie Crumbliss and Mary Walker Mixon won in singles, as did GPS's Mary Claire Spann. Huntsville's Kelsey Coots, who has signed with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, defeated Baylor's Samantha Caswell in three sets at No. 1 singles.
"The one thing I'm proud of is that I know the girls are always going to go out and give it their best," Baylor girls' coach Dustin Kane said. "They have so much fight and are such competitors, that's what makes us strong.
"When everybody fights, we're going to be in a position for a chance to win, and something good is going to happen somewhere."
In addition to Spann's triumph, Michelle Fleenor came back from a first-round loss to win the No. 1 singles consolation bracket for the Bruisers.
"I'm pleased with how the girls played all around," GPS coach Sue Bartlett said. "For Mary Claire Spann to turn around her match against McCall [Morgan]; for Hannah Morrow to take a set off of Maggie [Crumbliss], the girls have been fighting hard and showing they're very coachable."
In the B Division, titles went to Knoxville Catholic's boys and Randolph's girls. Signal Mountain's Anna Cameron lost her final at No. 5 singles, while Chattanooga Christian's Ellie and Hannah Henry lost in No. 1 doubles to Science Hill's Hope Forbrush and UTC signee Alison Storie.
"It's my first time at this tournament, so I got a good feel for the competition," CCS coach Renato Mizutani said. "It was an overall good tournament for us. We have good depth but got unlucky with the draw in a couple of cases.
"We lost a lot from last season and have had to move some girls up, so I'm really proud of them."