MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — When times get rough on the tennis court, Silverdale Baptist Academy's Addison Horton usually finds her way to the towel she typically keeps nestled up against the fence behind her. She opens it wide and covers her face in it, using the towel as a cleansing mechanism.
She found her way there plenty of times during her Division II-A girls' singles state semifinal Thursday at the Adams Tennis Complex, especially when she was down 3-0 to start the second set.
Eventually, the towel did its trick.
Horton rallied from three games down in the second set to defeat fellow freshman Ayden Kuhawa from Clarksville Academy 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) and advance to the title match against Knoxville Webb's Audrey Yoon.
"I'm just a little overwhelmed with it all," Horton said. "I just had to focus on playing point by point and not letting the nerves get to me. I had a rough start to my first match, but I was able to pull it together and start playing better. In the second match, she was a good opponent and I ended up playing a lot better once I focused on being consistent."
Chattanooga-area private schools had a solid first day in singles and doubles competition at state, with five different groups of players advancing to Friday's finals.
Horton is the only local finalist in DII-A, but in DII-AA, McCallie's Will Leathers will face top-seeded Baylor Sai of Montgomery Bell Academy for the boys' singles title. Baylor's Hunter Smith and Benji Taverne will try to repeat as state champions in boys' doubles, with their opponents McCallie's John Knight and Charlie Park.
Baylor's Landie McBrayer will face Ensworth's Maggie Cannata in the girls' singles state final. McBrayer is fighting to become the fourth Lady Red Raider to win at least one singles state title this decade. After Sonja Brkovic won a championship in 2011, Samantha Caswell won back-to-back titles (2012-13) before Drew Hawkins won three consecutive (2015-17).
If Leathers defeats Sai, he will be McCallie's first singles state champion since Andrew Rogers in 2000.
If Baylor wins in boys' doubles, it would be the fourth time this decade a Red Raiders duo has won and 16th all-time, second in state history. Should McCallie win in boys' doubles, it would be the second time this decade and 10th time in school history and add to a good week for Blue Tornado tennis.
In the DII-AA boys' team tournament, McCallie beat Baylor 4-0 in Tuesday's first round before topping MBA 4-1 in Wednesday's title match.