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Lady Jackets prove worthy of Spring Fling berth in loss

Lady Jackets prove worthy of Spring Fling berth in loss
The Greenfield Lady Yellowjackets tennis team made its first trip to the next level and finished their season knowing they were worthy of being there.
The Lady Jackets’ inaugural trip to the TSSAA’s Spring Fling tennis team state championships ended at the semifinal round with a 4-2 loss to Christian Academy of Knoxville in action on Tuesday afternoon at Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro.
"It’s just a different level of ability here. We did our best, and we didn’t get skunked," Greenfield tennis coach Teresa McCall said. "Going to state capped a great season. We were one of four teams left playing in the state."
The Lady Jackets (14-1), in only the fifth year of the tennis program’s existence, were far from blown off the court, forcing doubles play when Lady Jackets Katie McCall, at No. 1 singles, and Emily Allen, at No. 5 singles, both earned hard-fought wins.
At No. 5, Allen won in two sets at 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), but the victory was far from easy. The freshman from Greenfield got off to a hot start, winning the first set easily over CAK’s Caroline Murchison. Murchison responded in the second set racing out to a 4-0 lead, however, Allen wasn’t about to fold and hand over the second set to her opponent. Allen reeled off five consecutive games The set eventually went to tiebreaker, where Allen won five of the last six points to take the set and the match.
"She’s only been playing one year, but she doesn’t like to lose. We’re thrilled for her. She’s been taking extra practice and working hard," Teresa McCall said of her freshman’s fierce effort.
The Lady Jackets’ other point also came with a hard-fought effort. Katie McCall, playing against CAK’s Kia Baptiste, claimed a 7-5, 6-3 victory. McCall used her slices and drops to battle Baptiste who liked to bash from the baseline.With CAK having already claimed three points in singles, McCall, playing in the the last singles match to finish, had to earn the win to keep CAK from claiming the decisive fourth point and force doubles play.
In the first set, McCall got ahead 4-2 before Baptiste rallied to move in front 5-4. McCall regained the upper hand and finished the set strong to win 7-5. In the second set, with the score even at 3-all, McCall finished off her foe by winning the final three games to take the set, 6-3.
"She (Katie McCall) played hard today. It’s a different level of competition. It’s bittersweet knowing you end your season with a loss," Teresa McCall noted.
In doubles, McCall teamed with fellow senior Haley Perkins against Baptiste and Morgan Arrants, while GHS senior classmates Mallory Robinson and Meagan Porter worked together against Barbara Smith and Haleigh Chastain. Both doubles matches ended almost simultaneously.
Playing one set to eight in the doubles matches, McCall and Perkins fell behind 3-1 before splitting the next two games to trail 4-2. Baptiste and Arrants took the next four  games to win 8-2.
On the other court, Porter and Robinson got off to a good start, leading 2-1 and at 3-2, but Smith and Chastain won six of the next seven points to prevail over the Lady Jackets duo, 8-4.
In the other singles matches, both Robinson and Porter, who missed both her sophomore and junior seasons with knee injuries, suffered their first losses of the season, while Perkins also fell. Robinson, playing at No. 2, won one of the first three games in her first set to trail 2-1 to Arrants. Arrants went on to win the first set 6-3 and the second set by a 6-2 margin.
Porter, playing at No. 4,  was downed by Smith, 6-2, 6-1. At No. 3, Perkins was stopped by Chastain, 6-0, 6-0.
"We wouldn’t have made it this far without seniors. When we started (the program five years ago), we were just kind of doing it for fun. Just see how it worked," Teresa McCall recalled. "We had a good time and got a little stronger and better each year. We’d lose a senior or two and thought we might drop off, but our players kept improving. The girls did their best today and they’ve put it in perspective."
Although the team portion of the state tournament is over for Greenfield, three Lady Jackets actually still have a chance to claim state titles as individual competitors. McCall won the Region 7 A-AA singles title and with it the right to compete for the state crown beginning with quarterfinals at noon on Thursday at Old Fort Park. Porter and Robinson also won the regional doubles title and will pair up one more time with a shot to play for the championship beginning on Thursday.