MURFREESBORO — Sam Fischer waited until after the semifinals of the Class AAA tennis tournament Thursday at Old Fort Park to reveal a secret he’s kept since March.
The junior from Brentwood said he played the entire high school season while recovering from a broken left wrist he suffered on March 3 when he fell on the court during a doubles match at the USTA National Spring Championships in Mobile, Ala.
A cast was placed on Fischer’s left wrist, which he covered with sweatbands similar to the ones he wore on his right wrist so that no one would know about the break.
He battled through the pain all the way to the state tournament where he will play in the final Friday at 11 a.m. against Science Hill senior Andrew Morton.
Fischer, The Tennessean boys tennis player of the year, defeated White County junior Cole Crosland 6-1, 6-0 in Thursday’s quarterfinals and then Farragut senior Gary Carter 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals.
“I wanted to keep the injury quiet and didn’t want anybody to know about it because whoever I was playing could go after it,” Fischer said. “I did a lot of rehabilitation and had to go slow with the backhand for a long time and keep building it back. I couldn’t go full speed with the backhand until a week after I got the cast off.”
Brentwood will have the chance to sweep the boys and girls titles since Bruins sophomore Somer Henry, who won the 2015 title, earned her way back to the final on Thursday.
Henry, who is The Tennessean girls tennis player of the year, defeated Soddy-Daisy junior Olivia Crawley 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and Dobyns Bennett freshman Lainey Hill 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.
“Last year I was in the finals and I was really nervous,” Henry said. “I lost the first set and then came back and won. Hopefully, I won’t be as nervous this year. There wasn’t really any pressure last year, but I guess it was just because all of my family was here and my friends, who had never seen me play tennis, but really think I’m good. I didn’t want to disappoint them.”
So, does she expect to feel any pressure Friday when she faces Collierville sophomore Sneha Sinha, who advanced to the final by beating Clarksville sophomore Sofia Phillips 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals?
“Yes, there’s still pressure because I won as a freshman and it would be bad to lose as a sophomore,” Henry said.
Metro showdown: The DII-AA boys title is a lock to go to a local player with Montgomery Bell Academy junior George Harwell set to play Ensworth sophomore Miles Jackson.
Harwell is the defending state champ.
He defeated a pair of McCallie players Thursday — freshman Matt Barnett 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and senior Taylor Burgan 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Harwell also defeated a player from McCallie, Cody Gubin, 6-3, 6-4 in last year’s championship.
McDonald comes up short: When Skylar McDonald won the A-AA championship as an eighth grader in 2012 she had visions of winning five straight titles.
She claimed the title again in 2013, but lost the following two years in the final to Elizabethton’s Danielle Vines, who was home-schooled and did not compete in the state tournament in 2012 or 2013. She played in USTA tournaments exclusively.
On Thursday Vines deprived McDonald of the chance to win another championship by beating her 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Emotional day: Central Magnet freshman Nathan Zou had to battle as much mentally on Thursday as he did physically.
He made it through to the A-AA final where he will face Knoxville Catholic junior Jacob Lorino.
It started with Zou having to get past crosstown rival Will Reeves, a sophomore at Middle Tennessee Christian School.
“We’ve always had close matches,” said Zou, who defeated Reeves 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. “It hurts me to see that I’m beating my friend most of the time.”
Zou has now won three of the four matches in which he’s played against Reeves.
“In the first set he came out strong, but I was able to grind him down and wear him out,” Zou said. “And then I was able to take advantage of him from there.”
Zou then faced Trinity freshman Ben Sidwell, who kept him on the ropes before losing 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.
“The second match was a very emotional battle — a lot of tough points, long points, a lot of spin hitting, a lot of slice,” Zou said. “Both matches were just so close and so much of a battle. I think it will help me in the finals because going into that I know it won’t be any worse than that.”
Brentwood’s back: The Brentwood girls doubles has a chance to win a state title for the first time since 2008 after Katie DeWald and Georgia Fischer advanced to the AAA final.
DeWald and Fischer face Houston’s Kelly Carney and Menzie Montgomery in the championship.
Brentwood’s Laura Stack and Ashley Hopmeyer won the title in 2008. The only other time the Bruins won the title was in 2002.
Houston won in 2014 with Julia Hostetter and Hanna Wolford.
Lipscomb earns ‘cool’ title
MURFREESBORO — As a child of the 1970s, Lipscomb Academy boys tennis coach Lynn Griffith had the perfect response to the Mustangs’ first state team championship in 44 years.
“This is cool, man, this is cool,” Griffith, 62, said after Lipscomb’s 4-2 victory over Christian Academy of Knoxville in the Class A-AA finals Wednesday at Old Fort Park.
Griffith was a senior at Chattanooga Tyner in 1972 when Lipscomb Academy — then David Lipscomb — won the team title.
“Lipscomb had a great program that year,” Griffith said. “Gary Dunn and Gary Jerkins were the primary players. To bring Lipscomb another state championship, it’s just cool.”
Lipscomb Academy (20-0) clinched with an 8-4 doubles thriller by junior first cousins Sam Hutcheson and Jackson Duncan over CAK’s Davis Brady and Chase Bristow.
“We wanted to get coach Griffith his first state championship, that was kind of the thing,” said Hutcheson, who won his No. 3 singles match 7-5, 6-0 over Brady.
“We knew if we could at least get to doubles, we could win our doubles match and win state,” said Duncan, who won 6-3, 6-3 over Chase Bristow at No. 4.
CAK got wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles from Ethan Fussell and Reed Bristow, respectively.
Fussell defeated Richard Baker 6-1, 6-2 while Reed Bristow was a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Miller Duke. Lipscomb’s Ethan Heffington beat CAK’s Cole McDaniel 6-2, 6-0 at No. 5 to put the Warriors in a 3-2 hole after singles.
“We played hard and gave it all we got, but in the end, they just came out on top,” Fussell said. “In the end, we came out a little slow in doubles, but it was too hard to recover from.”
– Tom Wood
Brentwood girls blank Houston for AAA title
Brentwood’s girls tennis team cruised through the Class AAA championship match Wednesday, shutting out Houston 4-0.
The Lady Bruins lost just five games total as No. 1 seed Somer Henry topped Menzie Montgomery 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 Georgia Fischer won 6-3, 6-1 over Allison Griffin; Nikki Christiansen downed Kelly Carney 6-0, 6-1 at No. 4 and Marla Leone disposed of Kelly Glasgow 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.
“It’s the first time in quite a while,” said Brentwood coach Bill Jayne, whose boys squad fell in Tuesday’s semifinals. “The Brentwood girls have won five (state championships) in the past, but this is the first time since 2003 so it had been a while. The girls have been working hard for this for quite a long time, especially the two seniors.”
MURFREESBORO – Miller Duke, Sam Hutcheson, Jackson Duncan and Elam Heffington all won in straight sets for Lipscomb Academy as the Mustangs reached the Class A-AA boys team finals with a 4-1 win over Trinity Christian Tuesday at Old Fort Park.
TCA’s No. 1, Benjamin Sidwell, got the lone win for the Lions in the No. 1 match in straight sets.
Lipscomb will face the winner of Christian Academy of Knoxville and Notre Dame.
girls 4, Bearden 0
Somer Henry, Georgia Fisher and Mark Leone all won in straight sets, and Kate DeWald won in an apparent incomplete game.
Houston 4, East Hamilton 1: East Hamilton’s Andree Duncan won in straight sets to avoid the shutout for her team.
Menzie Montgomery won the No. 1 match for Houston in three sets as all three sets were won 7-5 with East Hamilton’s Hannah Dattilo winning the first set.
Allison Griffith, Dinobi Oyeagocha and Kelly Carney all won for Houston in straight sets.
Brentwood and Houston will meet at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the championship.
Tennessee High boys 4, Brentwood 3
Brentwood took the top two singles matches as Sam Fischer and Andrew Rogers each won in straight sets, but Tennessee got the lead going into doubles when Charlie Moseley, Austin Henson and Andrew Istfan won their matches.
Fisher and Rogers won in doubles for Brentwood to clinch the win after Mosley and Henson won with a retirement victory to force the deciding match.
Houston 4, Cookeville 0: Jonathan de Jesus, Joe George and Ben Leonard all won in straight sets, while Blake Boswell held off Jacob McCarter for the semifinal sweep.
Tennessee and Houston will meet in the championship at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
USJ boys 4, USN 0
University School of Jackson’s boys tennis team is back in the state championship after sweeping University School of Nashville in the DII-A semifinals.
The Bruins got quick wins by No. 2 George Markos before No. 4 Mason Woods before No. 1 Cade Reasons edged his opponent out.
Reasons beat George Corzine 6-3, 6-2. Markos beat Lebo Hunter 6-0, 6-0, and Woods beat Clayton Jelsma 7-6(3), 6-0.
The clincher came from Paul Markos in the No. 3 matchup.
Markos fell in the first set 4-6 to his opponent, Jackson Schnelle. Markos had to take a medical timeout before the second set.
Markos came back in the second and third sets to win 6-3, 6-2.
USJ advances to the championship, where the Bruins will play Knoxville Webb, which swept Friendship Christian.
Webb’s Nos. 2, 4 and 5 play
ers won easily as Harrison Williams beat Sam Burrus 6-1, 6-0, Ben Pearce beat Caleb Ross 6-0, 6-1 and Fausto Rollhauser beat Brad Ham 6-1, 6-0.
The No. 1 matchup was competitive as Ohm Sharma swept Noah Baker 7-5, 7-6(5).
The championship is at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
MUS boys 4, MBA 3
MUS’ Andrews Carro won the No. 1 singles match in three sets, but every other match finished in straight sets.
MUS’ Nos. 2 and 6 – Frederick Danielson and Jack Powell won each 6-2, 6-0.
MBA’s Baylor Sai and John Morphett swept to wins as well.
MUS took two of three in doubles play when Carro and Danielson won along with Powell and Weston Touliatos.
Matthew Bulow and John Morphett’s victory for MBA kept the team from Montgomery County in the match.
MUS and Baylor will meet in the championship at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Baylor girls 4, Harpeth Hall 0
Drew Hawkins and Lauren Carelli won a doubles match for Baylor. Ashton Jenne and Presley Thomas did the same with a shutout.
Baylor completed the sweep when Karolina Hakala, Thomas and Jenne won in straight sets that weren’t close.
Hutchison 4, Girls Preparatory School 3: Hutchison finished doubles play with a 2-1 lead. Grace Garrott and Grace Ann Dunavant won their match 9-8 (6), while Eliza Sims and Anne Grinder won too.
Maddox Bandy and Jenna Thorstenson won for GPS.
Each school won three singles matches.
Thorstenson, Kate Thel and Corinne Spann won for GPS.
Catherine Owen, Dunavant and Sims won for Hutchison.
Hutchison and Baylor decide the state champion at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
TCA girls 4, Middle Tennessee Christian 3
Trinity Christian fell behind when MTCS won two of the first three games, but a pair of three-set wins by Lindy Tatum and Lauren Presley helped TCA push the match to doubles.
MTCS won the first doubles match, forcing the winner of the match to hinge on who won the doubles match involving Tatum and Adelaide Russell.
MTCS coach Lawrence Goodwyn had a young team with all freshmen and eighth-graders except for one senior, who was out of town this week.
“We played a tough schedule this year because I wanted these young girls to find out what competitive tennis is really like,” Goodwyn said. “Our record suffered some for it, but it helped us when we got to district, region and sectionals.
“I’m proud of the way they played and pushed a good team from TCA.”