MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Notre Dame teammates J.R. Davis and Charles Jabaley saw the success of former Signal Mountain doubles partners Forrest Hooten and Adam Wolfe in the 2013 TSSAA tennis tournament and wondered, "Why not us?"
They've equaled the Eagles duo's success so far, and with one more win they can eclipse it.
The Irish partners are in the finals of the Class A/AA state tournament and will face Knoxville Catholic's Jacob and Stephen Lorino today at noon at the Old Fort courts. The Notre Dame pair are the only Chattanooga-area players in the Division I classification to reach the finals.
"We're just really pumped up right now," Jabaley said. "We knew coming in that we had a shot at this, so we just approached the tournament with a lot of confidence."
They defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy's Jack Zieman and Hunter Piskie 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and added a 6-4, 6-2 win over Middle Tennessee Christian's Will Reeves and Thomas Goodwyn in the semis.
"It wasn't our best tennis today," Davis said. "We were hitting our ground strokes pretty well and putting it past them at the net, but we're going to have to work on our volleys and placing our serve to get the win tomorrow."
A lot of area players claimed first-round wins. Jake Harden and Grayson Hartness earned the first-ever Boyd-Buchanan boys' state-tournament win before falling in the semifinals. Grace Academy's Blake Savard won an almost-three-hour match against Knoxville Catholic's Michael Aleman in three sets but lost to Greenbrier's Grant Maddox in straight sets in the semis.
"He was really consistent today and great on defense," Savard said of Maddox. "It was a really hard match to play after the first one I had, but it was fun. In the grand scheme of things, it's just another tennis match and I had fun out there. He just played very well -- I've got to give it to him."
In girls' singles, Chattanooga Christian's Hannah Henry and Boyd-Buchanan's Katie Delay fell in semifinal matches to two-time defending state champion Skylar McDonald and Elizabethton sophomore Danielle Vines, one of the top players in the Southeast. Vines hasn't lost a game all season.
Collegedale Academy's Emily Wilt and Matti Sue Nafie won their first-round doubles match, then lost to Unicoi County's Emily Lynch and Mallory Jackson.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.