Christine Palisoc was determined to join the party. She just took a much longer route to get there than her teammates.
The sophomore is one of five Baylor girls who will be playing in the A division finals of the Rotary Invitational tennis tournament, which resumes play this morning at 8:30 at Baylor. The Lady Red Raiders hold a one-point lead over GPS, which has four finalists.
St. Xavier's boys did not lose a match in the first day of competition and lead with 15 points, two ahead of Montgomery Bell Academy. McCallie and Baylor are tied for third with 8.5 points apiece.
Palisoc saved seven match points in her quarterfinal match before rallying to defeat Mountain Brook's Farris Ann Luce 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, and then she fought off Lone Oak's McKensie Ellerman 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). She joins Samantha Caswell, Maggie Crumbliss, McCall Morgan and Drew Hawkins from Baylor in the championship round.
"I think all of the preseason conditioning helped today," Palisoc said. "I knew I had to stay in the match and not let my mind go. I had a mindset that I needed to win.
"We enjoy the rivalry with GPS. We might not always like each other on the court, but we all enjoy the experience and we make each other better."
GPS has Emma McCallie, Michelle Fleenor, Hannah Morrow and Jennie McBrayer in the finals, with McCallie, Morrow and McBrayer matching up against Caswell, Crumbliss and Palisoc, respectively.
The two teams play a head-to-head match Wednesday afternoon.
"We know we're going to collide with them somewhere down the line, but the girls are excited to play them," GPS coach Sue Bartlett said. "We had some really good wins at the top today, but everybody played well."
There are two local boys' finalists: Baylor's Jack Gray and McCallie's Turner Voges.
• Huntsville's girls lead the B division with 13 points, with Spain Park a point behind. The Chattanooga Christian girls are third with 9.5 and have three finalists: Hannah Henry at No. 2 singles, Gracie Smith at No. 5 and Emmie Cornell at No. 6.
Signal Mountain is seventh in the girls' standings and eighth in the boys'.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.