It has been seven years since Montgomery Bell Academy last won a state tennis team championship – long past enough time in the eyes of the Big Red.
Nashville’s dominant power in the sport for more than three quarters of a century, MBA has its sights squarely focused on that elusive goal next month in Murfreesboro.
MBA has several prime reasons to believe the state drought will be over. Among them:
• MBA has team-match victories over three-time defending DII state champ McCallie, Memphis University School and Kentucky power St. Xavier. Playing a very demanding schedule, the Big Red is 7-0 in dual matches.
• MBA won the A Division of the prestigious Rotary tournament in Chattanooga earlier this month.
• And over the weekend, MBA won its own Carter Invitational Tournament, scoring 18 points to edge Baylor, which had16½, St. X (13½) and MUS, (12). It was MBA’s first Carter title since 2001.
• Reflective of great team, MBA has a very strong lineup all the way from No. 1 through 6 singles. On any given day, almost any player in the lineup could beat another.
MBA has won six state championships in all, one behind McCallie and good for third place overall. Baylor (15) has the most. Last year, MBA lost to Webb in the state semifinals.
“At this point, you’d have to call MBA the favorite,” veteran McCallie Coach Eric Voges whose team won the Carter and state titles in 2009, said.
Decimated by graduation losses, McCallie finished a distant sixth in this year’s Carter tourney.
“Everybody played well,” MBA coach Zac Hood, a former standout for the Big Red, said after his team won Carter. “We won much the same way we did Rotary, with three singles titles. All the doubles teams played well, too. Our No. 2 doubles team (Palmer Campbell-Russ Anderson) had the clinching ½ point we needed in their third-place match.”
In ’03, MBA, coached by current football coach Daniel McGugin and led by ace Chad Fernandez, won the final two doubles matches to beat MUS 4-3 in the team final.
Two added bonuses for Hood are having former Vanderbilt All-SEC player Ryan Preston (’08) and former nationally ranked senior Peter van Lingen assisting MBA this season.
Thrailkill has ‘Iron Man’ day
If the Carter tournament had an “Iron Man” award, it surely would have gone to MBA junior Davis Thrailkill.
With the forecast for heavy rains Saturday, the usual two-day tournament doubled up and played all day (and night) Friday, moving the matches from MBA to Whitworth Club inside courts after darkness. It made for a 15-hour day for many.
That meant players had to finish three singles matches by mid-afternoon after an 8 a.m. start. That included Thrailkill, who won his first two matches in three sets (the 10-point super tie-breaker was used for the third set).
Playing in the No. 5 division singles finals, Thrailkill won two more tiebreakers, outlasting William George of MUS 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7) to win the title. He and partner Andrew Karpos won two matches at No. 3 doubles and finished third.
“Coach Hood was good about giving me nutritional shakes to replenish my energy,” Thrailkill said, smiling. “That helped a lot.”
About the prospect of MBA winning state, Thrailkill said, “It’ll be tough. MUS and Baylor are both very good. But I think we have the team to do it. We have a great group of guys, we have a lot of fun with each other, and we have great team chemistry.”
Anderson and Karpos won the No. 4 and No. 6 singles championships, respectively. In contrast to Thrailkill, Anderson rolled to his title. He lost just five games in two matches and beat Trey Hatcher of Webb 6-3, 6-0 in the final.
Campbell finished runnerup in No. 3 singles.
“Definitely, we have great chance to win state,” Anderson, a junior, who possesses an all-around game with a variety of solid baseline play, overheads and drop shots, said. “We have a complete team, from top to bottom.
“If one or two guys are playing bad, the rest of the guys will pick it up. Besides that, we all get along great.”
The top two Big Red players have signed for college. Ace Roger Briggs (who won Carter consolations) is headed to Vanderbilt and No. 2 Naveen Chadalavada, who played No. 1 last year, is bound for Washington U. Chadalavada finished fourth in No. 2 singles.
Next up for MBA is a key DII dual match against Baylor Thursday at Sewanee. That follows matches Monday vs. Ryan and Tuesday vs. Lone Oak, Ky. Sectionals are May 15-16, with MBA assured of a home match.
Hillsboro’s Anderson shines at City track meet
Hillsboro sprinter Tyler Anderson put on a show at the annual City track and field meet last week at Harpeth Hall. After winning the long jump and triple jump Thursday, Anderson came back Friday and won the 400 and finished a close second in the 200 to Hunters Lane’s Jaz Davis.
Anderson, who missed the Doug Hall Relays due to compete in the Vol Classic that weekend in Knoxville, was named most valuable trackman after scoring 38 of the Burros’ 47 points. Ensworth won the boys division and atoned for a third-place finish behind champ MBA in the Hall Relays.
Janetra Gleaves of Cane Ridge and USN’s Jordan Lavender were named co-most valuable in the girls division. Gleaves won the 100 hurdles (tying the meet record) and the 300 hurdles, setting a record.
Lavender won the long jump, returned to win the two sprints, the 100 and 200, in meet record time. MLK added the girls team City championship to the Doug Hall title the Royals won last week.
Wilson returns to coach East Lit
Jim Wilson, who spent 23 years as head football coach at Goodpasture and Glencliff High, has come out of retirement accepted the job at East Literature.
Wilson, 60, replaces James (Bubba) Spears who resigned in February to take the same position at Hillwood. Wilson has spent the past two years as an assistant at Friendship Christian. His 1999 Glencliff team finished as state runnerup in Class 5A.
Also, Len McKnatt has been named head boys basketball coach at Battle Ground Academy. He succeeds Gary Smith, who was terminated after 36 years with the Wildcats.
McKnatt has served as BGA girls coach (1999-2006) and as boys middle school coach since 2007.