An incredible season for Rhea County’s State-qualifying tennis players came to a disappointing end on Thursday. Sarah Edwards (singles) along with Kyle Shaver and Brandon Newell (doubles) were unable to return to Evensville with the finish they had anticipated.
District 6-AAA and Region 3-AAA singles champion, Sarah Edwards, ran into a buzz saw in her opening match against the 2018 State runner-up. Brentwood’s Hamsa Javagal was every bit as advertised and the sophomore made the most of her State tournament opening match, taking down Edwards in two sets (6-1,6-0).
While it wasn’t the result Edwards had hoped, she acknowledged the skill level of Javagal and credited her for a great match.
“I knew coming in she was going to be a tough challenge after finishing as runner-up last season as a freshman. She’s an incredible player and I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t win the tournament,” she said. “It’s a little disappointing and I would have liked to at least advance into the semifinals, but happy to have accomplished my goals of winning district, region and placing in the top-20 of the State.”
Head coach Lil Andrews echoed some of those same statements and said she couldn’t have been more pleased with the overall body of work from this season from her Lady Eagle senior.
“I told Sarah that despite the season-ending loss, she’s ending her career at the best place possible…at the State tournament. She drew the girl that is probably going to win the whole thing, and we knew coming in it would be a battle,” Andrews said. “All the girls here at this point are very good but (Javagal) is superior to most of them. If she doesn’t end up State champion, boy, I’d really like to see who does,” she added.
Brentwood sophomore sensation went on to defeat Obion County’s Fernanda Espinosa in two straight sets (6-0,6-1) to advance to Friday’s final. She battled Collierville’s Romane Britt for the State crown and after dropping the first set, she rallied back to win two straight for the State championship.
On a warm Tennessee morning, Rhea County’s dynamic duo of Kyle Shaver and Brandon Newell were back at the Adams Tennis Complex for the second straight season.
The back-to-back District 6-AAA and Region 3-AAA doubles champions found themselves in a bit of a hole early on against Brighton’s Austin Russell and Dakota Strickland.
The Region 7-AAA Champions took the first set over Rhea County, 7-5, in a back and forth affair. With their backs against the wall, Shaver and Newell began to find their groove and took the second set, 6-4. The win kept their season and State title aspirations alive for the winner-take-all third set to decide which team would advance to the Semifinals.
In the third set, Rhea County continued to ride the momentum wave and eventually pulled away for the commanding 6-2 triumph to seal their spot in the Semifinals for the second straight season.
Unfortunately, it was Déjà Vu for the pair that has played together since their freshmen seasons. Shaver and Newell again battled hard but would fall short of the finals as Tennessee High School’s Hagan Oakley and David Bieger represented Region 1-AAA with a two-set victory over the Golden Eagles (6-3,6-1).
With the win, Tennessee advanced to Friday afternoon’s final against Region 6-AAA doubles champions, Jackson Stone and Ethan Eisenhauer. While the boys would have liked to at least make it to the finals this year, they posted another stellar season and wrap up the year with an impressive 15-2 record. They leave behind two very big shoes to fill on the Golden Eagle roster for spring 2020.