MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Perhaps unfortunately for Sunshine Finnell, Zaxby's won't be open in time Friday for her to replicate the pregame meal she had before her TSSAA Division I Small Class girls' singles state semifinal match Thursday.
Already into the final four by virtue of a forfeit, the Arts & Sciences sophomore swung over to the popular restaurant and ordered a "Kickin' Chicken" sandwich ("Minus the kickin'," she noted) prior to her match.
The result was a 6-4, 6-1 win over Watertown freshman Morgan Brown to advance to Friday's championship match, where she'll face 2018 state champion Brittney Combest from Murfreesboro Middle College at noon EDT at the Adams Tennis Complex.
Finnell advanced to the state for the second consecutive season and won at least a match for the second straight year, falling in last season's semifinals. She said last season's experience has helped her this year.
"I just have to keep doing the same things I did today — just focus on my game, (minimizing) the mental strain and keeping a calm sense of mind," she said.
Two Signal Mountain doubles tandems also will be participating in state finals Friday. Zach Ottley and Gabe Williams will face L&N STEM's Walker Lee and Campbell Maben, and Grace Williams and Emilee Werner will go against Summertown's Alexis Perry and Haley Caperton.
A pair of area public-school doubles duos fell in the semifinals. Rhea County's Kyle Shaver and Brandon Newell lost in straight sets — their second straight year of advancing to the final four in the Large Class — while East Hamilton's Sydney Dattilo and Madeline Benson also lost together.