D-B duo falls in state final

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 25, 2018 at 7:39 PM

MURFREESBORO — Dobyns-Bennett's duo of Willa Rogers and Lainey Hill achieved their goal of making it to the final match of the TSSAA Large Schools girls doubles state championships.

But with a state championship on the line, they wanted a pair of championship medals on Friday. It wasn't meant to be as the Lady Indians' No. 1 and No. 2 players suffered a 6-2, 6-3 loss to defending state champions Evie Calhoun and Georgia Fischer of Brentwood.

Still, it had been a great couple of days for Hill, a junior, and Rogers, a freshman. They rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Brighton's Andi Coulston and McCauley Jones in the quarterfinals, and they took a 6-2, 6-2 win over Murfreesboro Central sisters Macy and Molly Speight in the semifinals.

"I'm really proud of what we accomplished to be our first season playing together," Rogers said. "I wish we could have won in the finals, but I'm proud of what we did."

Hill added: "We came out here and competed the best we could. They've been playing together a while, and I'm really happy with how we did. Of course, we wished we could have done better, but we look to come back next year and win it all."

That could be difficult as Calhoun or Fischer are both underclassmen.

However, the D-B girls certainly showed they can compete with them. Even when Hill and Rogers were down 3-0 in the first set, the games were closely contested. They were tied 3-3 in the second set before the Brentwood duo finally took command.

But Hill and Rogers were particularly effective at the net.

"I thought when we were aggressive at the net and tried to put away volleys, we did well," Rogers said. "We just made too many errors and let nerves get the best of us early."

Fischer agreed with Rogers' assessment and said the pair from Dobyns-Bennett were the best they had faced at the net all season.

"They had an interesting formation when they were serving and we weren't used to it," Fischer said. "They had some good poaching, and we had to keep it away from the net player. Overall, they played a really good net game and more of their downfall when they gave us volleys. When they were being aggressive, they were dominating."

But those long volleys were a problem and the deeper the teams played, the more it favored the Lady Bruins' pair. It was a noticeable step up in the level of play with Calhoun's strong serves and both teams hitting the ball fast and low to the net.

"The competition definitely steps up a lot here," Hill said. "We got a good draw and that helped, although whenever you get here, everybody is good and you have to keep that in perspective."

Asked what is needed to take that final step and bring the state championship back to Kingsport, Rogers replied: "I just think we need to get more used to playing doubles. I'm more of a singles player, but the more we work and play doubles with each other, the smarter we'll get on the court."


Tennessee High’s state championship run officially ended Friday afternoon when Takuma Walter of White Station beat the Vikings’ Stone Cozart 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 in the TSSAA Large Schools boys’ singles final.

Prior to this season, the Vikings had won four straight team titles, while winning three doubles titles, two by Matt Henson and Jacob Marshall, and Charlie Moseley and Marshall in 2017.

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