Friday, May 16, 2014
- by B.B. Branton
A full week of singles-only practice paid off for the Hixson boys tennis team as the Wildcats posted a 4-2 win against host Signal Mountain Friday to earn a trip to next week's Spring Fling state tournament.
Playing a 5 singles,2 doubles format, the Wildcats won three of five singles and then clinched the win at No.2 doubles in the D-I A-AA quarterfinals (sectional) match.
"We lost to Signal Mountain earlier in the season (5-4), so we stressed singles all week and it paid off," said Raul Fernandez. "I am super happy for our guys, especially for senior Kevin Nyugen who will get a taste of the state tournament in his last season."
Singles wins for Hixson came from Alex Condra (No.1), Richard Young (No.2) and Nyugen (No.4), while the host Eagles gained wins from Zach Brown (No.3) and Grant Williams (No.5).
In doubles, Nyugen-Phillips defeated Luke Blentlinger-Thomas Thelen, 8-3 for the match-clinching fourth point.
"To win our doubles match and qualify for state is unbelievable as Carl and I lost our doubles match in our team loss to Signal Mountain earlier in the season," said Nguyen.
"We told each other that we would fight for every point and support each other the entire match and it worked."
Perfect Day: Kevin Nguyen had a perfect day on the court with singles and doubles wins ... he is also perfect in the classroom ..holds a 4.0 GPA and has never made a grade lower than an A going back to the first grade ... ranks 4th in the senior class ... he will enroll at the Univ. of the South in the fall and study biology and chemistry.
Season of Firsts: Signal Mtn won district and region titles for the first time in school history.
"We had an excellent season with two team titles and as we return six of the top eight players for next season, our future is bright," said Signal Mountain coach Renato Mizutani.
Hixson's Season: Coach Raul Fernandez believes this is the first time Hixson boys have ever qualified for the state tournament since the current state team format was implemented in 1988 ... prior to 1988, the team state champion was determined by a school earning a team point for each singles and doubles win by players who had qualified through district and region play.
Hixson has had one state singles champion - Julie Downey, 1983 ... Audra Brannon was a state runner-up in 1990 and her sister, the late Kim Brannon, was a state semifinalist in 1985 ... Kim's daughter, Abigail Ellis, is a senior on the Soddy Daisy team and will compete with Chloe Mitchell in the D-I AAA state doubles next week ...
Hixson Boys 4, Signal Mountain 2
Alex Condra (H) def. Jason Morris, 6-4, 6-1
Richard Vuong (H) def. Luke Blentlinger, 6-4, 6-4
Zach Brown (SM) def. Carl Phillips, 6-4, 6-3
Kevin Nguyen (H) def. Micajah Tucker, 6-0,6-3
Grant Williams (SM) def. Rivers De-Friese, 6-0, 6-2
order of finish: 4-3-5-1-2
2. Phillips-Nguyen (H) def. Blentlinger-Thomas Thelen, 8-3
Records: Hixson (14-3) Signal Mountain (12-3)
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com