MURFREESBORO – Doubles matches? Those are no sweat for the University School of Jackson boys’ tennis team.
For the second straight year, the Bruins have faced University School of Nashville in the Division II-A state semifinals at Old Fort Park, and for a second straight year, the match went into doubles to decide a winner.
The doubles team of Cade Reasons and George Markos beat USN’s Will Lippolis and Will Johnston 8-4 to send USJ into the Division II-A state championship match for the second straight season.
“I knew this was going to be a tight one,” USJ coach Ted Measley said. “USN flip-flopped their No. 1 and No. 2 and their No. 4 and No. 5 to benefit them, but in the long run, it hurt them.
“We were mentally ready. We have been a doubles team for the last two years. We trained for this moment. If we get into doubles with boys or girls, we win.”
USJ will face Knoxville Webb, who won over Lausanne in the semifinals by forfeit, in the championship at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
For the Bruins, the top three players were the ones that carried the team. USJ won the top three singles matches to take a 3-0 advantage.
No. 1 Reasons won a quick 6-0, 6-2 match over Will Johnston.
“It was a great feeling to play,” Reasons said. “I have been waiting for this opportunity. It was so hard to sit on the bench last year.
“I tend to play on the level of my opponent, but when I am under pressure, I play at the top of my game.”
No. 2 Markos has fought through injuries all season with his knee and then his elbow, but Markos again came through in the clutch for his team with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Will Lippolis.
“It feels good to win even though I am not in full health,” Markos said. “We found a way back in the championship and have another shot at Webb.
“I had a big serve today. My forehand worked early when I was taped up, but the tape came off. I had to rely on my serve after that.”
No. 3 Dalton Hockaday came back after losing the first set to grind out a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 win over Christian Hahnemann.
But USN took both of the final two singles matches as USJ’s Andre Gregory and Hollen Spencer lost in straight sets, but the Bruins had the 3-2 advantage going into doubles.
The Tigers evened the match as the No. 2 doubles team of Jackson Schnelle and Hahnemann knocked off Hockaday and Spencer 8-1, but Markos and Reasons showed why they are the No. 1 doubles team from the West region.
“I am confident in our doubles,” Measley said. “We like to throw mix formations at them. I believe in confusion. We will throw the Australian formation and the I-formation, so they can never get into a routine shot.”
• USJ girls fall 4-0: The Lady Bruins return to the state tournament didn’t end in victory.
USJ fell 4-0 to Knoxville Webb in the Division II-A West semifinals.
All five of the singles matches were completed before the match was called. The Lady Bruins won six total points.
USJ No. 1 Tori Hockaday took one point, but fell to Lauren Yoon 6-1, 6-0. USJ No. 3 Spencer Hancock took two points, but lost to Caroline Ross 6-0, 6-2. USJ No. 5 Ashley Willis took three points, but lost to Quinn Riley 6-3, 6-0.
Michael Odom, 425-9754