Matti Sue Nafie and Emily Wilt attributed last season's loss in the finals of the Region 3-A/AA individual doubles tournament to nerves. Monday afternoon, a couple of pre-match "selfies" and a calmer demeanor seemed to eliminate any chance of a repeat.
The Collegedale Academy duo raced to the region doubles championship and a spot in next week's Spring Fling tournament in Murfreesboro with a pair of straight-set wins at the Champions Club.
Boyd-Buchanan's Jake Harden and Grayson Hartness won in boys' doubles, rallying from down a set and behind 4-1 in the third set to defeat Hixson's Carl Phillips and Kevin Nguyen. Harden and Hartness became the first Boyd-Buchanan boys to advance to the state tournament in school history.
There were repeat winners in singles, as Grace Academy's Blake Savard fought off some sickness to beat Hixson's Alex Condra in straight sets and Boyd-Buchanan's Katie Delay defeated teammate Makenna Thomas in three sets to win in girls' singles.
Nafie and Wilt hadn't forgot about the 2013 loss to Hixson's Michelle Phillips and Whitney Clack, when they were just a tiebreaker in the second set away from claiming the title. They also benefited from some familiarity with their finals opponent, as Silverdale's Kinsey Anderson and McKayla Hicks were also the Collegedale girls' opponents in the District 5-A/AA final.
"We were a lot calmer this year, and we just took it a point at a time this time around," Nafie said. "We're super excited about the chance to play in state, but we know we're going to have to play well."
Added Wilt: "We were really disappointed last season, but it definitely helped playing somebody we were familiar with because we remembered how they played."
• The Soddy-Daisy girls' doubles duo of Chloe Mitchell and Abigail Ellis were the only area players advancing to the Class AAA state tennis tournament, after a pair of wins in the Region 3 tournament Monday in Cookeville.
Mitchell and Ellis defeated Cookeville's Hannah Lloyd and Summer Stroud in the semifinals and beat Rhea County's Lexie Bowman and Mallory McWherter in the final.
Cleveland's Jake Gibson and Brandon Williams were the only area boys who advanced past the semifinals, dropping their final in three sets.
• Signal Mountain's Allwyn Fisher and Kylila Tucker used a win in straight sets over Notre Dame's Sarah Faith Ingell and Mary Margaret Haywood in the finals of the Region 4-A/AA individual to advance to the state tournament. It was a change of fortunes from the district final, won in three sets by Notre Dame.
Notre Dame's Charles Jabaley and J.R. Davis won in boys' doubles, and Chattanooga Christian's Hannah Henry won in girls' singles. Central Magnet's Mason Grear won the boys' singles draw.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.