KINGSPORT – Science Hill took care of an old rival on the tennis courts Wednesday before heading into a championship match.
The Hilltoppers swept Dobyns-Bennett 9-0 in matches for both the boys and girls. The victories set up a District 1-AA championship showdown with Tennessee High on Thursday, hosted by Science Hill at the Pete Zannis Tennis Center.
Science Hill’s No. 1 player Daniel Haddadin set the tone for the boys. He teamed with Jackson Temple to win 8-4 over D-B’s Gavin Morelock and Sam Barbour at No. 1 doubles. He followed that up with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Morelock at No. 1 singles.
Haddadin was hitting the ball low and with efficiency.
“I was hitting good ground strokes. I was pretty solid, going through the ball really well, ”Haddadin said. “I was aggressive and happy with my footwork as well. I think as a team, we’re playing with a lot of chemistry and playing well. “
There was no doubt about that with Om Patel taking a 6-0, 6-4 win over Barbour at No. 2 singles. It was the same score with which Temple defeated Aidan Ponasik at No. 4 singles. Newton Raff also won in straight sets over Rishab Dey at No. 6 singles, while No. 3 Arshaam Kordamiri and No. 5 Cooper Weems won matches by default.
“Certainly, any time you can come over here and beat Dobyns-Bennett, it’s a good day. It’s something we don’t take lightly, ”Science Hill coach Kelly Lane said. “Daniel took his fitness serious in the offseason and you see a big difference on and off the court. He’s taken a big jump for us.
“We’ve had other people filling in new spots and doing a good job. I couldn’t ask anything more of the boys. “
It would be hard to ask much more of the defending state champion Science Hill girls either.
Leah McBride, playing at No. 1 for the girls, set the tone with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Allison Fields. Down the lineup, Josi Reid won over Marilee Hull in straight sets as did Lexi Bryant over Vivyan Li, Armitia Kordamiri over Klaire Lane, and Olivia Kneisley over Sydney Spillett.
The No. 6 singles match was more closely contested with Dobyns-Bennett’s Ashlyn Kirk winning the first set 6-3 over Madison Berry. However, Berry took the second set 6-3 and won the tiebreaker 10-5.
Now, the Lady ‘Toppers must defeat Tennessee High, which upset them 5-4 earlier in the season to force another match for the district title. Otherwise, their hopes of a repeat will be over.
“It was a good win for us today. We wanted to use it for good preparation for tomorrow, ”Science Hill girls coach Erin Williams said. “It was very close when we lost to them. We played them again this past weekend and beat them, but all the matches were close. We have to have some fight into us and focus on our doubles. “
On both sides, Dobyns-Bennett has progressed far since the first of the season. The Indians played tough inside the individual games. They just weren’t able to come up with the crucial points to gain needed advantages.
“They believe in each other. I just don’t know if we got over the hump of believing in ourselves, ”Dobyns-Bennett coach Reedy Toney said. “We dig ourselves in a hole. We’re in every point, but one thing this team hasn’t gotten in its head is how important a deuce point is.
“A lot of people will ask what’s the most important point and everybody will answer the next one. No. That 30-all at deuce point either puts you at ad-in or ad-out. Once they get that understanding, we can win more games. We won games throughout the match, but we didn’t win the points we needed to win the matches. “
Dobyns-Bennett will look to get back on the winning track Thursday when it faces county rival West Ridge.