MURFREESBORO – Make that two in a row for Ravenwood tennis ace Steven Karl.
The junior will have a shot at tying his late brother, Sean, next season, thanks to his performance at this year’s Class AAA singles tournament.
Steven Karl took home title No. 2 Friday with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Science Hill junior Andrew Morton in the AAA finals.
Sean died last November after losing a battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and Steven said it’s an honor to continue in his brother’s footsteps and bring home another state title, the family’s fifth.
“I think it’s pretty cool if I think about it,” Karl said. “Not many other families can say that.”
With one more year left at Ravenwood, Karl will have the chance to come back and defend his title one more time next year and said that Friday’s win will help him have the confidence to do so.
“I feel like it just takes the pressure off even more,” Karl said. “It gives me confidence that I can do it two years in a row. Next year I’m going to be even more motivated and try to get a third.”
Division II-AA: A day after Montgomery Bell Academy’s soccer team took home a state title for the Big Red, an MBA sophomore brought home another title single-handedly.
George Harwell won two hard-fought sets Friday to defeat McCallie senior Cody Gubin 6-3, 6-4 in the Division II-AA final and capture his first state championship.
“I love MBA and I’m just really proud to bring them back another title,” Harwell said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to get it. It’s surreal.”
After losing in the first round of the state tournament last season Harwell said Friday’s win will help him going forward his next two years.
“It just gives me a lot of confidence that I can beat anyone,” he said. “If I just play my game I can beat anyone.”
Division II-A: Will Johnston of University School of Nashville won a doubles state title last year as a junior with his partner Will Lippolis, but Lippolis couldn’t play in regionals so Johnston went solo for the postseason.
Johnston made it to Friday’s D-II A final but fell short 6-1 and 6-2 in straight sets to Lorenzo Rollhauser and was forced to settle for state runner-up.
“I’m not disappointed I didn’t win because I went out there and had fun,” Johnston said. “He was a really good opponent so I just tried to go out there and have fun and see what happened.”
Division I A-AA doubles: Middle Tennessee Christian School made it all the way to Friday’s D-I A-AA final but came up just short in doubles play.
Freshman Will Reeves and junior Thomas Goodwyn fell 2-0 in straight set to Matt Holloway and Mitchell Jostes of Knoxville Catholic.
Brentwood’s Henry captures AAA girls crown
MURFREESBORO – It’s tough to come back from down a set in a tennis state final, especially when you’re a freshman facing a senior, but that’s exactly what Brentwood freshman Somer Henry did Friday afternoon.
After dropping the first set, Henry stormed back and took two straight sets from Dobyns Bennett’s Josie Rogers to upset the senior and capture the Division I AAA championship in her first trip to state.
Rogers looked good early doubling Henry’s game total and taking the first set 3-6.
“I had to make some adjustments because she’s a good player and she was playing really well,” Henry said. “In the first set her shots were on and she was hitting all winners and I started have to try to move her and it worked.”
Henry dominated the rest of the match losing just two more games and capturing the state title with a two-set run of 6-2 and 6-0.
“It feels good,” Henry said. “I didn’t think I would win.”
Division II-A singles: University School of Nashville senior Francesca Eluhu tried to change her luck on Friday.
After falling in the state championship final match in 2013 and losing in the semifinals last year, Eluhu was in search of her first state title Friday in the girls D-II A but came up just short once again.
The senior fell to St. George’s junior Claire Sullivan 6-0 and 6-4 in straight sets.
“I’m still proud of how I played,” Eluhu said. “I really had to adjust because Claire has improved a lot since last year.”
Division II-AA singles: Brentwood Academy senior Mackenzie Phillips was able to improve on her quarterfinals loss in last year’s D-II AA state tournament but fell just short of her ultimate goal losing in Friday’s state final to Baylor sophomore Drew Hawkins.
Phillips was happy with her performance and said Hawkins was just too tough to beat.
“She can just take any ball I give her and hit it incredibly hard,” Phillips said. “It’s just hard for me to give her a shot she can’t handle.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-239-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.