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Johnson County tennis plays well in District Tournament

It has been a good season for Johnson County’s Tennis Team. Exceeding expectations, the top seeds in both the girls and boys teams competed in the 1A/AA District Tournament in Elizabethton and were met with a good measure of success. With two singles and two doubles teams made up of the top six Longhorn players, Johnson County’s efforts to improve this year finally paid off, allowing several of the teams to progress well into the tournament rankings and making school history with a fourth consecutive run at regional’s by Senior Carlton Tugman.
Tugman and Timmy Bellamy represented the Longhorns for the boys’ singles while Holly Adams and Amber Brown stood for the girls. All four did well, especially considering that Adams is only a sophomore and Brown is a freshman. For Coach Steve Nave, girl’s tennis this season went better than was hoped for. “I don’t like to go by wins right now, but Holly won a match in the districts, beating a girl from Unicoi County. It was a very good win. She only plays the best player from the other teams because she is our number one. So getting wins is very difficult considering that she is just a sophomore. I don’t really look at wins as what we are going for yet, because she is playing seniors. However, when she played people her grade she won, which is what I’m the most pleased with,” Nave said.
Adams went on to rank number three overall in the tournament, making it to the semifinals but then losing to the second place position from Sullivan North. Amber Brown also demonstrated how much she has improved; playing a tough match against Sullivan North that resulted in a tiebreaker. “That one really stood out,” said Nave. “It was a really good match and I was proud of the way she played.” Although the match resulted in a loss, for Brown to have played so well this early in her career is a testament to her ability.
Another member of the girl’s team that has been making waves this season was Dawn Lewis. Holding one of the team’s only conference wins this season, Lewis competed alongside Karissa Cornett on Johnson County’s doubles team. In yet another very impressive match, the girls’ game lasted nearly three hours before coming up just short at 5-7 in the last set. According to Nave, “We weren’t looking at wins and losses as progress but they got a lot better and the tournament showed it. When they are playing against people their own age they really competed well. I’m very happy how the girl’s season went. Amber’s match and Karissa and Dawn’s match were real surprises. They both almost won and if you can win a match in district that’s very good.”
For Lewis, the success has been a product of hard work and determination, but has been well worth the effort. “I felt I did pretty well. Coming out as a freshman, I never though I would get this far in the first year. I’ve been to every practice, even on weekends. Everyday I would try and practice for two or three hours. It’s just a great feeling. I won one conference game against Sullivan North and then one game in doubles against North also. I had never set foot on the court before high school. I just thought it would be really cool to play and I’m definitely coming back next year. I love it,” said Lewis.
With more experience behind them, the boys’ team also did very well. Ryan Whitener and Travis Stockinger made up the doubles team, winning their first match before losing to Unicoi. Timmy Bellamy made a respectable run in the singles, also winning his first match, but then falling short to Unicoi’s Matt Holka, who went on to be district champion. Yet, the real star of the show from Johnson County had to be Carlton Tugman.
Tugman plowed through the competition, first defeating Conly Shultz from Unicoi, and then toppling Tyler Lee from Elizabethton in the semifinals, before hitting a snag in his third match to take home first place. Going up against Matt Holka, a Unicoi County exchange student from the Czech Republic, Carlton was just shy of capturing the championship when he received his first defeat in the tournament.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.