As the Signal Mountain boys' tennis team started to climb back into the match Tuesday against rival Notre Dame, Irish senior Jay Nguyen tried to remain calm. Even as it became obvious that the fate of his team and its postseason dreams came down to his match against Jason Morris, Nguyen kept his nerves -- and eventually the Eagles at bay.
Nguyen won a battle of endurance against Morris, the 8-6 victory turning out to be the winning match in Notre Dame's 5-4 District 7-A/AA team win. The Notre Dame girls completed the sweep, defeating the Lady Eagles 6-3 for their 24th consecutive victory.
The Signal boys (9-1, 3-1) fell behind 2-1 in doubles matches, and then the Irish went up 4-2 after singles wins by Charles Jabaley and J.R. Davis. The Eagles battled back with wins from Zach Brown and Luke Blentlinger, setting up the No. 4 singles match for the difference.
Nguyen trailed at various times but broke serve at 6-all and served the match out for the win.
"I'm pretty used to playing close games, but I'm glad I was able to get the win for my team," Nguyen said. "This was probably the most nerve-racking match I've played, but I tried to stay calm the whole time."
Harrison Smith won at No. 3 singles for the Eagles, who face Chattanooga Christian on Thursday. The Irish (9-0, 3-0) will play the Chargers on April 30, and a win then would clinch the district championship.
The Lady Irish also claimed two of three doubles matches, then received wins from Katie Joyce, Danika Dorris, Allison Ross and Bridget Haywood.
"It was a very exciting match," Notre Dame coach Nancy Fox said. "I'm very proud of the teams."
Shelby O'Quinn and Anna Cameron had singles wins for the Lady Eagles (9-2, 3-1).