MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Jackson Lenoir admitted Thursday that it would be awful for him to not win a Class A/AA state tennis singles championship this season. One thing is for sure, though: He'll definitely appreciate the road he has had to travel.
The Arts & Sciences senior survived to defeat Central Magnet's Mason Grear 7-5, 7-6 (9-7) to advance to today's state final, where he will have to face Christ Presbyterian Academy's Lucas Spickard at noon at Old Fort.
He'll be joined locally in the finals by Baylor's Eric Roddy and Marko Mandic, who edged Memphis University School's Healy Fuess and Jacob Birnbaum 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the Division II-AA doubles semifinals. The duo will play Montgomery Bell Academy's Mark Lowe and Andrew Karpos, who defeated McCallie's Daniel Pare and Bobby Brouner in the quarterfinals and McCallie's Luke Orthner and Evan Watkins in the semis.
Baylor's Anderson Scarpa fell in the singles semis to Memphis University School's Walker Sims, while in A/AA doubles, Signal Mountain's Adam Wolfe and Forrest Hooten lost in three sets to Pigeon Forge's Garrett Byrd and Alex Delozier.
Lenoir improved to 24-0 for the season, but Grear pushed him the entire way in their semifinal.
"That was a very tough match," Lenoir said. "The first day is always the hardest because you have to play two matches; it's hot outside and you have to keep your composure. I was happy I was able to pull it out and hope I can tomorrow."
He said that being pushed recently has been more of a positive than negative for him.
"I realize that I've had the target on my back all year in the district and region," the 2011 state singles runner-up said. "It's been a test, but also a steppingstone because of how hard I've had to play to get here.
"I wasn't too pleased with my play, but if I'm able to pull it out on a bad day, that's good."
Roddy said that his partner Mandic was the main reason they were able to pull off their three-set semifinal victory.
"He played awesome," Roddy said. "I was starting to choke, but he held down the fort. ... He's always steady, but I seem to play better when we're behind because I just quit caring -- like we've already lost."
The two said that they feel like they have a good chance heading into today's final.
"We've beat them twice this season, so we feel like we have a good chance," Mandic said. "It's going to be a good, exciting match. We're going to give it all we can, and we hope to get a state championship."