Chattanooga Tennis Has Four State Champs

Dorris, Evans, Kelly Sisters and Cuevas-Cooper

Friday, May 28, 2010 - by B.B. Branton

An excellent close to a great four days of tennis, Chattanooga girls won state titles in the morning, while local boys won it all in the afternoon.

Champions crowned were Sarah Evans (GPS), Kayla and Ahmee Kelly (Arts & Sciences), John Dorris (Notre Dame) and Baylor duo of Carlos Cuevas-Alex Cooper.

Scenic City netters bookended the day as Evans was the first champ off the court (10:03 a.m. CDT) and the Baylor champs closed the books on BlueCross Spring Fling XVII tennis at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Two Girls' Titles:

Setting the stage for Dorris and Cuevas-Cooper, Evans and the Kelly's were all smiles shortly before lunch as they closed out their prep tennis careers with gratifying TSSAA state gold medals.

D-II AA Girls’ Singles: In the highly anticipated final, Evans won the first game, the last game and all in between for a one-hour, three-minute, 6-0, 6-0 victory against Baylor eighth grader Samantha Caswell.

Evans with a sparkle in her eyes afterwards stating, “This is such a great way to end my high school career and I am so excited to have won the singles title.’’

Evans, who won six of seven meetings against Caswell, put a large exclamation point to an already stellar career by reversing her 2009 singles final loss to Hayly Humphreys of Hutchison.

The Wofford College-bound Evans could take a page from the Terry Bradshaw hall of fame quarterback and say that today’s win was “one for the thumb’’with four state team rings and now one state individual.

Fighting back tears, GPS coach Sue Bartlett said, ““Sarah really stepped up her game this week and it was her time to win today,’’

Bartlett first saw what Evans was like under pressure as the tnen-eighth grader teammed with Courtney Pare for the winning doubles point for the 2006 team championship.

Four years later, she wins singles and doubles in the team triumph against Baylor in Wednesday's final and the last big piece to her prep career puzzle with the singles gold medal today.

D-I A/AA Girls’ Doubles: It was double smiles and double gold medals for the Kelly’s who posted a hard-fought, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) win against Natalie Seale and Katherine Schofield (Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville).

“I feel relief and joy at the same time,’’ said Kayla with a smile after the match.

“Relief that the pressure if now off and we were able to defend our title and joy in winning our second.’’

Ahmee pointed out that it winning a three set semifinal match was key to today’s win.

“That was our first time to lose a set in two years so it was a good wake up call and really helped us handle the pressure today with the state championship on the line,’’ she said.

College Bound: Kayla could join older sister, Albany, at Milligan College and play basketball and tennis or be a two-sport athlete at Alabama-Huntsville.

For Ahmee, it’s Tusculum or Milligan to play tennis and maybe volleyball.

“Now that the state tennis tournament is done we can focus on college,’’ said Kayla. “It would be fun for all three of us to be at the same school and all playing tennis.’’

D-I A/AA Boys' Singles: A man of few words - a mild mannered Clark Kent if you will - but one with a vast array of super-style shots - minus the cape - Notre Dame's John Dorris claimed a straight sets win for a state singles tennis title.

Playing on the hard courts at Old Fort Park, Dorris defeated Pearl-Cohn sophomore Kyle Burton in D-II A/AA to become Notre Dame's first boys' tennis champion since Chris Brown won three (1962-63-64) and third overall following Debby Herring (step daughter of Chris Brown) and her singles crown in 1985.

"It's great to win for Notre Dame and bring some recognition to the tennis program,'' said Dorris, who leaves Saturday with his family for a much deserved vacation - minus the tennis racquet - to The Philippines.

"I think I'll leave the racquet at home, but will definitely play some tournaments this summer and get ready for next season,'' said Dorris with a smile who is as sharp in the classroom - 3.8 GPA with AP courses - as he is on the court with that steady game, strong forehand and accurate backhand.

"It was a well-played final and both players are to be commended for an excellent display of tennis sportsmanship throughout the match,''said Notre Dame volunteer coach Gary McIntyre.

D-II AA Boys’ Doubles: An all-Baylor final showed pre-tournament favorite Alex Cooper-Carlos Cuevas defeat Aditya Rali-Michael Goldstein, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3.

"We feel pretty good about winning the doubles as we prepared all season for this,'' said Cooper.

Cooper and Cuevas plan to play in the upcoming Tennessee Valley Open Championship at Manker Patten in mid-June and then return to Bermuda and Chile, respectively, for the summer.

Cuevas said it is up in the air on whether he will return in the fall for his junior year or stay home.

"My parents (who were courtside for the finals) want me to stay home next year, but maybe I can convince them otherwise,'' said Cuevas.

Cooper plans to return to Baylor for his senior year.

Picture Perfect Day: Tennessean photographer George Walker, who is at the state tennis tournament catching the action of middle Tennessee players, turned the early May floods into a picture-perfect day on Sunday May 2 for retired Vandy football coach George MacIntyre ...

Due to heavy rain waters, the Harpeth River overflowed into the River Plantation Condominum Complex with water rising to nearly five feet in the bed-ridden MacIntyre's condo ...

Walker, with the assistance of coach MacIntyre's son, Matt, were able to put "Mac'' on an recently-purchased air mattress and float him out the door and move him and his wife to a higher level condo.

Contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net


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