Loudon duo clinches district title

Loudon High School’s Hayden Ferguson, left, and Tyler Mills on Thursday won the District 5 Small Schools Division doubles championship at Ingleside Tennis Complex.

For a second year in a row, Loudon High School claimed a district tournament championship in doubles tennis.

The senior duo of Hayden Ferguson and Tyler Mills picked up their second consecutive title Thursday after defeating Meigs County in the District 5 Small Schools Division doubles championship at Ingleside Tennis Complex in Athens.

“They are very excited,” Bob Tripp, LHS head tennis coach, said. “It’s been a very long time since anyone here has won a district championship in singles or doubles — men or women. They are extremely excited.”

Ferguson and Mills went into the tournament undefeated as partners and made quick work of opponents.

They defeated the team from Meigs County High School 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals before taking down a team from Meigs 7-5, 6-2 in the finals.

“It’s a great feeling because I haven’t really been able to win the district the last four years in basketball and football, so it’s good to finally get something done in one of the three sports I play,” Ferguson said. “It’s just fun to do with one other person because of the chemistry. You rely on a teammate and he relies on me, so that’s a good relationship.”

Ferguson and Mills knew of each other before high school, but tennis has linked the two for a special bond.

“They’ve been playing four years together,” Tripp said. “They have played since their freshman year and I put them together.”

“We knew about each other in middle school and elementary school,” Ferguson added. “He went to Philadelphia and I went to Fort Loudoun, so we weren’t too close. Ever since high school and tennis, we started hanging out after school. We still, to this day, do things together.”

Ferguson believes this season has been more challenging, despite a drop off in talent around the district.

“Believe it or not, I believed this season was going to be a lot easier than it was based off last season because all the good players in our district graduated,” Ferguson said. “McMinn Central brought in a home-schooled kid that I lost to twice in singles and those were my only losses in general. Meigs County brought in a few kids that were pretty good and I had to try harder than I thought I would. I thought this season was a little bit harder than last year.”

The duo will return to Athens on May 13 to compete in the Region 3 Small Schools Division doubles tournament and will practice throughout the week in preparation.

Ferguson expects to go up against Signal Mountain High School, which defeated the duo in the region tourney last year.

“I think we’re practicing every day this week,” Ferguson said. “We went to region last year, of course. Last year, there were seven teams from Signal Mountain, so we’re expecting Signal Mountain again. We played them pretty close in the region last year, so I think we can do it. We’re just going to have to work really hard.”