MURREESBORO, Tenn. — McCallie entered the 2019 tennis state tournament Tuesday as the prohibitive favorite to win the Division II-AA team championship, which would be its first in 10 seasons.
But because titles aren't won on paper, the Blue Tornado still needed to complete the requirements, meaning wins over rival Baylor and Montgomery Bell Academy, which won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.
The Tornado defeated MBA's Big Red 4-1 at the Adams Tennis Center for their first state title since 2009.
Signal Mountain fell 4-0 to L&N STEM in the Division I Small Class championship, its second runner-up finish in three seasons.
Charlie Park, Jordan Bruck and John Knight had singles wins for McCallie (15-1), after Bruck and Will Leathers and Park and Knight secured the two doubles wins that provided the first team point.
"This feels incredible," said Park, whose 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles sealed the match and the championship. "We worked so hard for this. We didn't have the best team last year — we were good but not great — so it feels good to win after 10 years. Last summer we knew we were getting some new kids that I had been playing with for awhile, and we were excited to get some new talent.
"We knew we were prepared and had been working hard, and (coach Eric Voges) just told us to keep doing what we'd been doing, and if we kept working as hard as we can, you'll win."
Voges has been part of seven of the program's nine state championships as a coach — six as the head coach and this one as the assistant. When he arrived, one of the freshmen on the team was current head coach Jeff Clark, who graduated from McCallie in 1991 with a state title of his own. Clark coached the women at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 11 seasons before coming back to his alma mater in 2016.
"I'm just so proud of our boys. They played so hard," Clark said. "If you play hard and have kids who love tennis, good things can happen, but it's hard to do. We have great coaches who really love the boys and are patient with them, and I can't be prouder of this group of players and coaches."