Tennis teams succeed at district

Loudon High School’s Tyler Mills, left, and Hayden Ferguson pose Thursday after winning the Small School District 5 tournament championship. The duo fell 4-6, 4-6 on Monday to Signal Mountain in the Region 3 doubles semifinal in Chattanooga.

For the first time since 2004, Loudon High School claimed a district championship Thursday in boys doubles tennis after defeating Meigs County 6-2, 6-0.

LHS juniors Hayden Ferguson and Tyler Mills entered the district tournament undefeated.

“They were a very strong team throughout the year,” Bobby Tripp, LHS head tennis coach, said. “Whenever they were together, they never lost a match in the regular season to my knowledge. They were seeded as No. 1 in the tournament and this is the third year they’ve played together. For them to win a district championship is a huge deal because it hasn’t been done since 2004.”

Ferguson is a multi-sport athlete at Loudon who also plays football and basketball. However, he got his start with tennis at a young age.

“Well, whenever I was little, Steekee Elementary had a team and I played with them,” Ferguson said. “Me and my dad played quite a bit but then we stopped throughout middle school so I could focus more on football and basketball. I picked it back up in high school freshman year as a break from basketball for something more fun to do. I’ve been playing seriously ever since then.

“I know it’s been more than 10 years since Loudon’s won anything in tennis, so it’s very special for us to be able to do that,” he added. “I think me and Tyler play really well together. We have a lot of chemistry together and it’s just been fun to be with him.”

The duo advanced to Monday’s Region 3 semifinal in Chattanooga, but fell 4-6, 4-6 to Signal Mountain.

“Even though they lost in the region, I’m still very proud of them for making it that far and playing as well as they did this year,” Tripp said. “I mean, it’s really big for the program and the school. We haven’t seen that type of success in a long time. They played strong against Signal Mountain. Unfortunately, they were just a little bit stronger. We’re going to add the trophy to the trophy case, as well as put up two posters of them in the school hallway.”

Lenoir City High School also had a successful post-season in tennis. Max McQuilkin advanced to the Large Division District 4 championship, where he fell 6-3, 7-6. However, McQuilkin advanced to Mondays’s Region 2 semifinal against Halls’ Anthony Basilio, winning 1-6, 6-2 and 7-6.

“Max really battled in the district championship and in the region semifinal on Monday,” Craig Price, Lenoir City head tennis coach, said. “He didn’t really have his best days on the court, but he battled through and didn’t quit. It’s been hot lately and he’s been pushing through it because of his competitive nature.”

“Nobody’s been to the region tournament in all of my eight years here at Lenoir City,” Price added. “For him to reach the district championship and win a region semifinal is, by far, the best performance we’ve had in tennis since I’ve been there. Since they’ve moved to AAA, they haven’t had really any success like what Max has seen.”

The Region 2 championship was played Tuesday afternoon after News-herald presstime.