MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Five seasons in the Baylor School tennis program have helped Landie McBrayer obtain a wealth of knowledge.
Once an eighth-grader who didn't fully grasp the importance of her individual matches at the bottom of the lineup, the Lady Red Raiders senior now plays No. 1 singles and leads the program's quest for a ninth consecutive Division II-AA state team championship.
Baylor defeated Chattanooga rival Girls Preparatory School 4-0 on Tuesday and will face Hutchinson in the state final Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT at the Adams Tennis Complex. Paige Gilbert, Defne Bozbey and Grace Mooney won singles matches for the Lady Red Raiders (12-1) after Gilbert with Anna Hawkins and Mooney with Carolyn Reid were victorious in doubles.
Signal Mountain's girls defeated Union City 4-1 in the Division I Class Small semifinals and will face Summertown in the final. Grace Williams, Callie Mastin, Sophie Bruce and Jenna Riese won in singles for the Lady Eagles.
McBrayer played sparingly for Baylor as an eighth-grader and as a freshman before moving into the lineup full-time as a sophomore in 2017 and earning Times Free Press Best of Preps honors, a year she lost to teammate Drew Hawkins in the state singles final. Last season she moved up to No. 3 singles and helped Baylor to its eighth consecutive team title while falling again in the state individual tournament finals, this time in doubles.
Now at the top spot, she's assumed the role of the leader on a roster with just two seniors.
"It's not a lot different," McBrayer said Tuesday. "It's been a good year being a team leader and seeing the difference from not being the top on the team, but our team has a really great bond and it's been a great year."
During her career, McBrayer has had a chance to learn behind some solid No. 1 players for the Lady Red Raiders, including three-time singles state champion Drew Hawkins and last year's top options in Presley Thomas and Lauren Carelli.
"I just learned to always work hard," McBrayer said. "You always watch the top player, what they do on the court, but you realize that every match matters. Moving from No. 6 to now being No. 1, you realize how important the six spot is, the five spot and so on.
"You just realize every spot is important."