Thornton, Faulkner, Irish girls team 3-peat at state; Cassity, KCHS Liakonis-Murphy doubles repeat

  • In terms of overall accomplishments, three Knoxville Catholic tennis stars have led the Lady Irish to a No. 1 national ranking in 2023, according to Universal Tennis rankings, and a threepeat (all unbeaten) as Division II-AA team state champs. Finishing unbeaten in her singles tennis career at KCHS, senior Maeve Thornton, center, captured her third straight singles state crown Friday, May 26, at Adams Tennis Complex in Murfreesboro. The doubles tandem of junior Eleni Liakonis, left, and sophomore Lillie Murphy, earned back-to-back Division II-AA doubles state titles (unbeaten both seasons) Friday at ATC. Head coach Rusty Morris also praised senior Gigi Sompayrac, a key team contributor during the three-year team state title run in doubles and at No. 4 singles. “She’s such a great leader. She never lost a doubles match (paired with Thornton) in her career,” he said. Also contributing were junior Peyton Carroll, “a great No. 5 who didn’t lose a match all year in singles,” along with sophomores Karenna Thurman and Pauline Schneiter. - Tennis photos by Alan Sloan

  • Riley Cassity, FHS junior, serves versus junior Ensley Collins of Walker Valley in the Division I-AAA singles state title match Friday morning, May 26, at Adams Tennis Complex in Murfreesboro. Cassity has won back-to-back at state after this 6-2, 6-4 triumph. - Tennis photos by Alan Sloan

  • Allie Faulkner, CAK junior (wearing gold medal), won her third straight Division II-A singles state title at Adams Tennis Complex in Murfreesboro, the latest one Friday morning, May 26. Joining her are father, Eric Faulkner; mother (far right), Sharon Faulkner; and sister, Kate Faulkner. - Tennis photos by Alan Sloan

MURFREESBORO — Following the enormous success of Knoxville Catholic’s girls tennis team, ranked No. 1 nationally by Universal Tennis for much of the season and now a three-peat Division II-AA state champ (unbeaten all three years), and its singles/doubles success (noted above in the cutline), the following are quotes from the team’s top player and one doubles star, along with quotes reflecting the repeat success of an FHS junior and three-peating CAK sophomore (see cutlines).

KCHS senior Maeve Thornton, undefeated in singles her entire career and a three-time Division II-AA champ after her match Friday, May 26, at Adams Tennis Complex: “Of course, this year there was a little more pressure and expectation on our team, especially with the (national) ranking.

“... But we kind of just kept our perspective of playing one match, one point at a time.”

The Lady Irish doubles duo of junior Eleni Liakonis and sophomore Lillie Murphy won their second straight Division II-AA state crown: “We pulled it out last year, so we focused and we played well together,” Liakonis said.

CAK sophomore Allie Faulkner, now a three-time Division II-A state singles champ: “I was very nervous going in thinking I had to win, but once I got here the nerves settled (down) and I was able to enjoy playing in this tournament.”

Farragut junior Riley Cassity, now a back-to-back Diviison I-AA state singles champ: “Way more pressure” versus 2022, “Even though I am older and more mature, and like more confident, it’s still like a ‘you’re expected to win’ type of deal.’”