published Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Collegedale Academy boys' tennis players make state final

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- For the Collegedale Academy boys' tennis players, the road to their first state tournament was far worse than the pressure of actually playing in it.

At least, that's how it looked on the court Tuesday.

The Eagles continued their dream season, defeating Huntingdon 4-1 for a spot in the Class A/AA state championship match today. They will face Unicoi County, which defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy 4-3, in today's championship match at 12:30 p.m. EDT at the Old Fort courts.

Both Baylor and McCallie ended their seasons in the Division II-AA boys' semifinals, Baylor falling 4-2 to Memphis University School and the Blue Tornado falling 4-0 to Montgomery Bell Academy. This is the first season since 2005 that neither Chattanooga school will be playing for a state title.

Collegedale's Eagles (17-3) got wins Tuesday from Conner O'Brien, Boston Londis, Michael Chung and Austin Lee in singles and avoided doubles completely. Mike Sintak fell in three sets to Huntingdon's Barrett Phelps at No. 1 singles.

Huntingdon came into the match with a 100-5 record in match play this season.

"This is just kind of rarified air for us," Collegedale coach Steve Kulik said. "It was a team effort across the board; the guys have been pulling for each other, and all of the hard work and practice has paid off."

On the way to the state tournament, the Eagles had to get past Arts & Sciences in their region tournament and Chattanooga Christian in their sectional. In years past, those had been the two schools that usually would end their season, with CSAS defeating Collegedale 4-3 in the past two region finals.

Tuesday, the Eagles matched up against a Huntingdon team that also was making its first state trip.

"It was something that we did talk about," Kulik said. "We knew there might be some nerves, but we gained a lot from the win over Arts & Sciences because they were a team that was here last year. They knew what it took to win and we worked hard and were able to get past them, so we drew on that."

Baylor's Red Raiders (7-2) got off to a good start, winning the doubles point after getting wins from Marko Mandic and Eric Roddy at No. 2 doubles and from Jackson Pride and Jack Gray at No. 3. MUS took over from there, though, and won four of five completed singles matches. Marshall Sharp, Walker Sims, Jacob Birnbaum and Spencer Riley were victorious, with Birnbaum's win over Mandic at No. 3 sealing the match.

"It was a great match today between two strong teams and good sportsmanship during all the matches," Baylor coach Ned Caswell said.

McCallie (7-5) succumbed to the two-time defending Division II-AA state champion Big Red, who got wins from Palmer Campbell, Andrew Karpos and Kalyan Chadalavada.

MBA's Campbell and Aaron Jumonville won at No. 1 doubles, while Chadalavada and Andrew Graham were victorious at No. 3.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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