MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — After winning the TSSAA Division II-AA girls' doubles state championship last season, Girls Preparatory School tennis players Maddox Bandy and Jenna Thorstenson spoke about how they wanted an opportunity to defend their title.
They'll get that chance today.
The pair overcame a slow start in the semifinals to defeat Baylor's Karolina Hakala and Lilly Mooney 7-5, 6-2 Thursday and advance to this morning's championship at Old Fort Park. The match is at 10 EDT, and they'll face Baylor's Lauren Carelli and Presley Thomas, who defeated GPS's Ellie Edwards and Corinne Spann 6-0, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
"We've worked really hard this season," Thorstenson said. "We feel ready and excited, but there are also nerves that come with it because we know Baylor will always bring everything they have."
Baylor's Drew Hawkins will have the chance to repeat as Division II-AA's girls' singles state champion today — she'll face Harpeth Hall's Winslow Huth, also at 10 — after earning a pair of straight-sets victories Thursday. Huth, who lost 6-3, 7-5 to Hawkins during the regular season, beat Baylor's Ashtone Jenne in Thursday's other semifinal.
The doubles final will be a repeat of the East/Middle region championship from May 7, when Bandy and Thorstenson defeated Carelli and Thomas 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
"There are definitely nerves," Bandy said. "There are always nerves when we play Baylor. I think that we start slow a lot — we lose the first set a lot — because we have to get warmed up. We have to get used to playing, all the people cheering, but once we can get calm, we typically do pretty well."
Carelli is in the doubles final for the second straight season. She teamed with Mooney last year but now is paired with Thomas, who lost to Carelli and Mooney in the 2015 semifinals.
"We're real excited to go out, do the best we can and just have fun," Carelli said. "We took a lot of practices to play each other, to learn to get together and work things out."
In the Division II-AA boys' doubles tournament, Baylor's Alec Kadrie and Patrick Toomey beat McCallie's Ryan Crump and Charlie Thel 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals to reach today's final at noon EDT. They'll face Memphis University School's Andres Carro and Frederick Danielson, who beat Baylor's Cooper Long and Brandon Kali 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 in the other semifinal.
In Division II-AA boys' singles, McCallie's Taylor Burgan lost in the semifinals.
In Division II-A girls singles, St. Andrew's-Sewanee's Ester Yang fell 6-0, 6-4 to St. George's Claire Sullivan, who will play in today's final against Webb School of Knoxville's Carina Dagotto.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.