BLACKSBURG, Va. – Just call John Battle senior Adam Terry a homemade hero.
As a freshman, Terry was the sixth seed for the Trojans. And that’s where this story starts to percolate.
After advancing from the No. 4 and 2 spots to the top seed this season, Terry closed his fun run Friday morning in the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center at Virginia Tech with his second straight Class 2 state championship berth.
“Since that first year on the varsity, I always wanted to compete for a state title,” Terry said.
In a match that began at 9 a.m. Friday, Terry combined with junior Hudson Crabtree to post a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Galax in the double semifinals.
The Battle boys then fell 6-0, 6-1 in the finals to Chris Kim and Miles Heffernan from George Mason.
“Hudson and I knew coming into the season that we had potential,” Terry said. “It was a blessing to reach this point.”
Terry also advanced to Thursday’s Class 2 singles title match before falling in straight sets to Virginia Tech tennis signee Ryan Bernstine from Goochland.
While Terry achieved part of his quest, the 6-foot-1 Crabtree added another page to a family tradition Friday.
Reed Crabtree, Hudson’s older brother, advanced to at least the Class 2 semifinals four straight years in individual play. Reed, now a member of the Radford University tennis program, competed with Hudson in the 2018 doubles finals.
“I watched Reed compete at the state level for years, and it was nice to have him here supporting me today,” Hudson said. “Reed knows a lot about the game and he has always been willing to give me tips.”
The athleticism of Terry and the power of Crabtree paid dividends in the semifinal victory over Coleman Morgan and Landon Dickson from Galax.
Battle then took a 23-1 record in the showdown with the George Mason combo of Kim and Heffernan. Terry watched the other semifinal between George Mason and Maggie Walker match intently.
“We knew Mason was going to be tough,” Terry said. “I played [Kim] last year in the team competition and he’s really good.”
While the power and aggression from Mason made the difference, Terry was able to hold his serve to make the score 4-1 in the second set.
“That was the best team we’ve faced all season,” Crabtree said. “We would have liked to win, but it’s an honor just to be here.”
The backstory for Terry offers hope for players of all skill levels. Instead of training with a tennis pro, Terry developed his skills by hitting with his sisters, Rachel and Amanda. Rachel helped the Battle girls win the 2006 state team title.
“My sisters inspired me and I wanted to win state just like Rachel did,” said Terry, who also competed for the Battle basketball team. “I’ve been a work-in-progress since my freshman year. I put in a lot of work each summer and gradually improved.”
Terry plans to continue his tennis adventure at Emory & Henry.
“The guys we faced in the finals today were like college talents, so that gives me a lot of motivation going forward,” Terry said.
In today’s team finals, Eastside will face Richmond-based Maggie Walker in a noon start.
Class 2 Girls
Junior Kaley Jenkins and senior Sarah Arnold of Gate City had a promising first chapter to their Friday morning.
With efficient strokes and clever shot placement, the GC pair opened a 5-1 lead against Kathleen Reuwer and Harper Minarik from Radford.
“We had a great thing going with our consistency and execution, then all of the sudden something fell apart,” Arnold said.
After grabbing the first set on a 7-4 tiebreaker, Radford stormed to a 6-2 victory in set two.
“I’m not sure what happened,” Jenkins said. “I guess we thought that we had it. We lost our momentum and never could it back.”
Jenkins and Arnold seemed to lose zip on their shots after the Radford rally.
“Tiebreakers are really stressful,” Jenkins said. “We played well overall, but we faced a good team.”
The Radford combo lost in straight sets to Maggie Walker in Friday’s double championship.
In last year’s team semifinal loss against Radford, Jenkins dropped a three-set marathon against the steady Reuwer.
“She’s super good,” Jenkins said.
Gate City coach Delonda Spivey decided not to pair the 5-foot-2 Jenkins with the 5-8 Arnold in doubles until mid-point of this season.
“Oh my goodness, the quickness that Kaley has is amazing,” Arnold said. “If I missed a ball, she came out of nowhere and got to it.”
Arnold trained with former Gate City tennis standout Tara Sheets, who won a total of 13 state titles in team and individual competition before competing at East Tennessee State
The Arnold story has another angle. She finished 31st in the VHSL girls state golf tournament this past fall and has signed to compete in golf at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
“I start my golf workout program Monday, but I hope to go out with a bang in the team finals Saturday,” Arnold said.
Saturday’s revised schedule has 10-time state titlist Gate City facing Maggie Walker in a 10:30 start. The singles rotation for the Blue Devils includes two seniors, one junior and three sophomores.
On Monday, Jenkins will begin summer training for volleyball where she operates as a setter for GC.
“I didn’t start playing tennis until my freshman year, but I enjoy the game,” Jenkins said.
Joel Jenkins, Kaley’s father, formerly served as a tennis coach for the Blue Devils while Kaley’s sister, Krista, was also part of GC tennis dynasty as player.
“It’s an honor to compete in the state tournament,” Kaley said. “We hope to use this doubles match as experience and motivation for Saturday.”