By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
GREENEVILLE— The lifelong dream of reaching the state tournament in tennis is finally over for Johnson County’s dynamic sophomore duo of Taylor and Olivia Cox. The sisters were double trouble at Tusculum University on Monday winning the Region 1-AA tennis tournament over Chuckey-Doak’s Kassidy Holloway and Ondreea Shelton 6-4, 6-4 who they had lost to in the District 1-AA championship just a week ago.
The Cox sisters will now play in the state tournament on May 24, in Murfreesboro. Their opening match is at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday (CST) and at 2:00 p.m. in the semifinals if they win. The championship will be played on Friday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m.
The Cox sisters were on top of their game from the get-go. They were flawless around the net and had very little trouble getting their first serves.
“We just came out and played our game,” said Taylor “We were consistent in everything we did. We didn’t get down on each other, and I think that helped. They had beaten us in the District Championship, so we weren’t about to let it happen a second time. This was definitely one of the best matches that we’ve played as a team.”
Last year the Cox’s upset the No.1 doubles duo before losing in the semifinals as freshmen. Olivia said they were determined all year long to make it a bit further this year.
“We came in here hoping to make the state tournament,” said Olivia. “We would have been disappointed if we hadn’t. We have worked so hard in the offseason to make this happen. Beating Chuckey-Doak was special because we felt bad losing to them last week. It made getting to the state even more special because we proved that we belonged.”
Head coach Zack Pitman couldn’t attend Monday’s match because of AP testing going on this week but knew his kids had a chance. Their performance didn’t surprise him one bit.
“We knew they had the potential, but their only problem was getting them to realize just how good they could be,” said Pitman. “They needed to play aggressively so we had them play against myself and some of our top boys’ players last week. Apparently, it paid off. We will continue to work on their shot selection and aggressiveness over the next several days. Hopefully, they will come home with a state championship.”
Assistant coach and dad Craig Cox took the tennis team down along with assistant coach Tim Tugman.
The boys’ duo of Noah Cox and Will Henson lost in the semifinals, and the Longhorns girls were tied 3-3 with a berth to the state tournament on the line but fell 2-7 in the decisive match. Both were happy with their team’s overall play but the spotlight shined brightest on the Cox twosome.
“We knew what their path was going to be to the state once Chuckey-Doak beat North Greene,” said Coach Cox. “They have a very good team, and they’re consistent. We weren’t happy about how they played down here last week but today is one of the best games that I’ve seen them win. They were determined not to lose.
Assistant coach Tim Tugman added. “I am so proud of these kids for the way they represented Johnson County High School. They played their hearts out and gave it their all. I’m really happy for Taylor and Olivia.”
Both girls agreed that the hot summer practices and long hours of workouts were definitely worth the time invested.
“I hate to lose, so it means something to go out and prove that we are a good team,” said Taylor. It’s a great feeling representing little ole Johnson County at state.”
Olivia added. “I wouldn’t trade this day for anything. We now have to focus on winning rings and bringing a state championship back to Mountain City. That would mean the world to us.”