By Matt Hill
GREENEVILLE — An unexpected trip to the Region Tournament came to a halt for the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones, but the memories they made this year will last a lifetime.
Chuckey-Doak ended Elizabethton’s Cinderella run with a 4-0 victory over EHS in the Class A/AA Region I Tournament at the Greeneville Tennis Complex.
There were two matches that could have gone either way, but in those matches, Elizabethton’s Christine Hardin lost 6-4, 7-5 to Amanda Knight and Emily Russ of Chuckey Doak defeated Hallie Collins 7-5, 7-5.
The Knights Makaela Brown won 6-1, 6-1 against Courtney Evans and Melinda Bowman edged Hannah Hulshut 6-2, 6-1.
Elizabethton’s Haley Thacker and Chuckey-Doak’s Jordan Murphy split sets when the match was clinched by the Lady Knights.
Had Hardin and Collins won, there’s a good chance the Lady Cyclones would have pulled the match out, but EHS head coach Kenny Hardin couldn’t fault the effort of his squad.
“Any sport you can say “what if” at any time, but our kids fought the entire way” he said. “They never gave up and we came back and got a couple of matches close. We had an opportunity, but it didn’t work out for us.”
Chuckey-Doak didn’t try to overpower the Lady Cyclones, but instead the Lady Knights were very consistent in getting the ball back and with ball placement.
The Lady Knights forced Elizabethton to make errors while they didn’t.
“They just tried to hit everything back and keep everything in play, and it was a pretty smart strategy and it worked for them,” Hardin said. “They played well today.”
Chuckey Doak coach Ben Murphy has tried to get his girls to play steady and not try to out-hit people all year long, and it paid off in a mighty way.
“That’s the best we’ve played all year,” he said. “I’m really proud of our girls. It’s the first time in school history we’ve won a region title in girls tennis. All the credit goes to them.
“We’ve preached to them all year about hitting the ball back one more time and that’s what they did. They picked the right time to listen.”
Murphy was very complimentary of the Elizabethton players and how well the program has done over the last decade.
“Elizabethton has a great tennis tradition, and I thought they had a real strong tennis team this year, so we’re fortunate to come out with a win.”
With four solid coaches in Hardin, Curtis Brumit, Amanda Pike and Randy Kourschak plus a dedicated group of girls and very supportive parents, this conference championship was a total team effort by the Elizabethton Cyclone tennis family.
“Coach Curtis Brumit, Coach Amanda Pike and Coach Randy Kourschak have done a great job helping me,” Hardin said. “They basically took a brand new team and won the conference and we set that goal to come here and play in the regionals and we’re real thankful for everybody’s effort this year.”
The Region I-A/AA Individual Region Tournament takes place Monday at the same Greeneville Tennis Complex.