published Friday, May 25th, 2012

Chattanooga Christian's Henry sisters reach state final

Girls Preparatory School's Michelle Fleenor returns the ball to Ensworth's Hannah Kimbrough at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
Girls Preparatory School's Michelle Fleenor returns the ball to Ensworth's Hannah Kimbrough at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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    Baylor's Samantha Caswell sends the ball back to St. Agnes' Becca Hanniford during Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Ellie Henry wasn't too confident about the idea of playing doubles with her sister Hannah in the postseason. She just wasn't too sure how well the partnership would work out.

"I thought we would fight a lot," she admitted.

This morning, they'll be fighting together -- for a state championship.

The Chattanooga Christian duo earned two wins Thursday in the Class A/AA state doubles tournament to earn a spot in the finals against Christian Academy of Knoxville's Haleigh Chastain and Barbara Smith at 10 a.m. at the Old Fort courts.

Baylor's Samantha Caswell and GPS's Michelle Fleenor will battle in the Division II-AA singles final at noon. Also, GPS's Emma McCallie and Hannah Morrow advanced to the state doubles final.

Boyd-Buchanan's Taylor Eades and Emily Brown won their quarterfinal but lost to Chastain and Smith in the semis. Baylor's duos of Harper Caswell with Mary Walker Mixon and Maggie Crumbliss with McCall Morgan also fell in the semis.

The Henrys' brother, David, was a three-time state champion at McCallie. Ellie noted that in what has become a ritual for the Lady Chargers junior -- advancing to the state tournament -- she's now hungry for her first state title.

"At this point, I don't care. I just want to win a state championship," she said. "We played better in our first match today, but we didn't play as well in the second match. We were lazier and missed shots that we shouldn't have missed."

Hannah, a freshman, expressed excitement playing today but admitted that she was "a little nervous."

Fleenor beat Briarcrest Christian's Erin Patton and Ensworth's Hannah Kimbrough, the top seed coming in.

"Honestly, I didn't think I'd make this far," Fleenor said. "I just kept my head in and stayed mentally tough. I thought staying consistent throughout the match helped me a lot."

Samantha Caswell missed the final day of the East/Middle Region tournament a few weeks ago, earning her a four seed coming in to the state. To advance to the finals, she had to defeat the West's No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, Grace Summers of St. Benedict and Becca Hanniford of St. Agnes.

"I don't think I played my best today," Caswell said. "I didn't play my style of tennis; I kept balls in and got to all of them, but that's not usually how we play. I think I'm a little tired from all the tennis this week.

"Individual stuff is a lot different than the team. I enjoy the team, but I'm entering this tournament with the mindset that I'm playing to win. If I lose, it won't bother me because we met our team goal yesterday. The individual tournament is just kind of a bonus."

McCallie and Morrow called their semifinal victory the "best we've played all season.

"We were just clicking," McCallie said. "Everything just came together at the right time. It was a total team effort."

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