Seymour wins first 2-AAA boys tennis title
Dylan Cox already let one chance to clinch Seymour’s first District 2-AAA boys tennis title slip away on Friday.
Given a second chance in doubles, the junior wasn’t going to lose this time.
“Completely frustrated at myself,” Cox said. “But when this much is on the line, you don’t have a choice.”
Cox combined with Nick Fintak to get the one doubles point Seymour needed to clinch a 5-2 victory over South-Doyle in the District 2-AAA final at Sevierville City Park. The duo’s 8-5 win over Braden Smith and Cody Cummings combined with singles wins by Jonathan Fintak (8-6 over Matt Art), Grant Wallen (8-2 over Smith), Nick Fintak (8-2 over Austin Roberts) and Matt Hurton (8-1 over Wes Hood) moved the Eagles into next week’s Region 1-AAA championship.
“I’m a basketball person,” said Seymour coach Brandi Stallings, who also coaches the girls basketball team. “I figured I’d get a basketball (title) first but here I’ve got a tennis one. It’s kind of weird.
“But I’m extremely proud of the boys, how they conduct themselves, how they band together. They have their team dinners after every match. I’m so proud of them.”
The Eagles, whose lineup includes no seniors and just two juniors, faced a stiff test from the Cherokees. Seymour won the first meeting, 8-1, and for a while it seemed like the doubles matches wouldn’t be necessary. The Eagles had leads on five courts even after No. 1 Jonathan Fintak and No.2 Grant Wallen trailed early.
But Cox lost four of his last five games against Tucker Lewis to fall 8-6 and force doubles. Seymour needed just one doubles points and the Eagles’ first two pairings had leads throughout, jockeying to be the team to clinch the title. In a moment of redemption, it was Fintak and Cox that ended Cherokee’s season.
“I think (Nick Fintak) feels just as elated as I do,” Cox said. “I think we speak for the whole team. Hey Grant (Wallen), how do you feel? He feels pretty freaking awesome.”
PIGEON FORGE — One of the best matches on the first day of the individual tournament featured county rivals.
Pigeon Forge’s Daniel Delozier and Ethan Williams put together two huge second-set rallies to put away Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Noah Bettis and Ben Roberts, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) and reach the boys doubles quarterfinals.
“It was amazing,” Delozier said. “You’ve just got to stay positive with it. You can’t just let yourself down.”
After winning the first set, the Tiger duo had to come back from 5-2 down in the second set just to force the tiebreaker before falling behind by the same score again. They scored the next four points, finally winning on their second match point.
Several other locals advanced to Saturday’s play. Quarterfinals will begin at 9 a.m. and include Pigeon Forge’s Garrett Byrd and Chad Gibson as well as the Highlanders’ CJ McFalls in boys singles play. G-P’s Cassidy Yaksic and Madie Riggs are still alive in the girls singles bracket. G-P’s Tanner Cox and Tucker Shults will play in the boys doubles quarters. Pigeon Forge’s Hailey Dominique and Dhara Patel are still playing in the girls doubles.
Union County 5, Gatlinburg-Pittman 0
PIGEON FORGE — The Highlanders saw their season rudely ended thanks to a no-hitter from the Patriots’ Samuel Cooper.
Union County scored three runs in the second before adding a run each in the third and fourth innings. G-P struck out eight times and didn’t have a baserunner until the seventh when Austin Acor and Kevin Profetta earned free passes.