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Johnson City Schools Middle School Tennis finishes as state runner-up

Johnson City Schools Middle School Tennis finishes as state runner-up

In only its third year, the Johnson City Schools Middle School Tennis Team is already making waves across the state. The club sport, with players from both Indian Trail and Liberty Bell middle schools, finished as state runner-up in the USTA TMSAA State Tennis Championships Co-Ed Silver Division.

Team members for the State Tournament were Maren Jordan, Kevin Zheng, and Reagan Trice from Indian Trail Middle School, and Jackson Baker, Rohan Papireddy, Jason Wang, William Tran, Mujtaba Malik, and Brendan Wang from Liberty Bell Middle School. The team was coached by Jamie White and Michael Smelser.

“We are so proud of these students and their hard work,” White said. “As a high school teacher, the opportunity to work with and get to know the middle school players was amazing. Sharing my love for the game and watching the players grow throughout the season was truly special. Additionally, the encouragement we received from families during this time was very much appreciated.”

In all, 46 students signed up between the two 6-8 middle schools. During the season more than 30 of those students played in at least one match.

"This was so fun,” said Smelser of coaching the team. “Having both schools practice and work together every day and joking around with the kids from both schools just made it fun. The players that went on to the state tournament did a great job representing Johnson City."

The Johnson City Schools' Middle School program defeated White Station, Arlington, and Maryville to advance to the State Championship Final against Page Middle School.  

Johnson City Schools has offered middle school tennis as a club for the past two years under the direction of South Side Physical Education teacher Ricky Pelton; however, this was the first trip to the state tournament. The program hopes that the strong finish will help propel them into being a sanctioned sport for the 2024-2025 school year. Both coaches noted that they are looking forward to developing the program further.