MURFREESBORO – What little extra motivation MBA may have needed to beat big rival Chattanooga Baylor, the Big Red took full advantage of it.
Buoyed by senior ace Roger Briggs and an amazing bottom part of the lineup, MBA tripped Baylor 4-2 in a tense 3½ hour match to win the school’s seventh tennis championship in the Blue Cross DII-AA final Wednesday at Old Fort Park.
Three weeks ago, Baylor handed MBA a 4-3 loss, its lone team setback of the season in a match that was clinched when Baylor ace Anderson Scarpa beat Briggs in three sets with a lot of disputed line calls. After the match, the Baylor player ripped off his shirt and ran around the court with his hands held high.
On Wednesday, Briggs gained some big payback with a 6-0, 6-1 win, which started MBA on the road to victory. It tied the match at 1-1 after Baylor had won the doubles point.
“All that just added fuel to the fire,” Briggs, who has signed with Vanderbilt, said. “He’s a nice kid, and it just turned into a really intense match.
“This (winning state) is a little surreal. Russ (Anderson) and really everybody played great. This is a great way to end my high school career.”
Anderson, Davis Threalkill and Andrew Karpos all went undefeated at No. 4-5-6 singles this season in both dual and tournament matches, and all three won Wednesday. It was Anderson who clinched the match with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over a cramping Rali Aditja.
That came after Threalkill and Karpos had given MBA a 3-2 lead, with Karpos winning in three sets. As insurance, it appeared Palmer Campbell was poised to win at No. 3, going up 3-0 in the third set.
“Once I saw he was cramping (Aditja fell to the court with leg cramps on set point in the second set), I just tried to move him side to side and forward and backward, trying to tire him out,” the 6-2 Anderson who was also on the state champ MBA basketball team in February, said. “We got so many e-mails and videos sent to us of what happened in the earlier match, and it just motivated us more.
“Our 4-5-6 guys have been great all year, and we are all coming back, which I think gives us a great chance to win it next year.”
“Finally, I got what I’ve been shooting for since I’ve been at MBA – a state championship,” senior and No. 2 Naveen Chadalavada, who is headed to play tennis at Washington Uuniversity. in St. Louis, said. “It has all been so much fun.’”
Each MBA player has the words “1 of 6’’ imprinted on the back, noting the value of all six players.
“I feel a lot of joy for our players who have been rewarded for all their hard work,” coach Zac Hood, a former Big Red player, said. “They had the fight and the will to beat a really good Baylor team. Roger winning quickly really helped and Davis winning in two sets was big.”
The win gave MBA four state team championships this school year – cross country, swimming, basketball and tennis, with the football team finishing DII-AA runnerup.