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Players fall short of region bids

Sullivan North’s McKenna Smith and Ashley Ferrell had the right remedy to stall any regional tennis tournament bids for Unicoi County High School.
Lady Blue Devils Emily Lynch and Victoria Bailey qualified for the semifinals, but fell to Smith/Ferrell (7-5, 7-5) during the final day of the District 1-A/AA individual and doubles tournament on Friday, May 1, at Milligan College.
“It was the closest Emily and Victoria had played them all season long,” said Jonathan Kenney, UCHS head tennis coach. “We were up 5-3 and had two set points, but couldn’t close it out.”
Friday marked the end of a season that netted a bevy of experience for players, primarily with newer Blue Devil players, according to Kenney.
“The improvements from day one of the season to the tournament are night and day,” he added about both of his teams. “Our guys really started to come on. We had a lot of new guys come out and struggle early on, but they ended up winning their last two matches of the regular season. The guys had a nice bit of momentum going into the tournament.”
And it was showcased during the two-day event, Kenney added. Sam Murillo and Fernando Castellon were able to make some noise in the first round while the other doubles team of Dalton Spears/Christian Leon were just a few shots away from qualifying for the semifinals by winning a shutout performance in the first round.
The Lady Blue Devils came close to earning an individual bid with Kamille Harris, who also lost a nailbiter in the second round.
Preparation is already in full swing for the upcoming batch of netters and expectations are running high, especially with the guys, Kenney said.
“It could be a big year for the guys,” he added of next season. “We’re returning all but two of our top six. They all got better this year and saw a higher level of competition that will only make them better for the years to come.”