Murphy-led KCHS girls tennis 3-peat, singles; Faulkner’s 4th

  • Lillie Murphy, KCHS junior, rolled to her first Division II-AA singles state title Friday morning, May 24. - Photos by Alan Sloan

  • Allie Faulkner, CAK junior, and her parents, Eric and Sharon Faulkner, signal ‘4,’ as Allie won her fourth straight Division II-A singles state crown Friday. - Photos by Alan Sloan

MURFREESBORO — Playing side-by-side at Adams Tennis Complex in search of girls state singles crowns, Knoxville Catholic’s Lillie Murphy remained unbeaten in her high school tennis career while Christian Academy of Knoxville’s Allie Faulkner won her fourth straight Division II-A singles state championship.

Murphy single No. 1, KCHS girls state threepeat

For Murphy, 2024 was a transition from being a doubles player who had won back-to-back Division II-AA titles with Eleni Liakonis as a freshman and sophomore. But the junior wrapped up her first II-AA singles state title Friday morning, May 24, by beating Melanie Woodbury of Hutchison (Memphis) 6-4, 6-3.

“I’m really happy, especially following up Maeve (Thornton),” Murphy said about her former star teammate, a career unbeaten three-time state singles champ. “She’s definitely a great example to to follow up on.”

A Furman University commitment, Murphy said about her summer plans, “I’m going to take a few days off, go to the beach. But then after that, I have a bunch of tournaments coming up.”

What’s more, Murphy and her younger sister, sophomore Lauren Murphy, contributed three team triumphs, combining in doubles to win 8-6 while each was victorious in singles, to capture the II-AA state crown versus Baylor 4-3 Wednesday, May 22, the program’s third straight team state title.

“She’s never lost a high school match,” KCHS head coach Rusty Morris said of Lillie. “She’s just a great fighter.

“She motivates herself through the positive energy she gives herself,” he added.

“She never quits running for a ball, plays incredible defense when she’s put in those situations. A very smart player, works great shot patterns.”

Other KCHS victories in the team competition versus Baylor came from Liakonis in singles and she and No. 1 doubles partner Payton Carroll (8-4).

Faulkner’s fourth straight

“I had been in this situation three times before, so I knew what the pressure was going to be, and she had never experienced it,” Faulkner, a junior, said about freshman foe Noor Sandhu of Lausanne (Memphis, winning 6-1, 6-1).

“Allie just keeps getting better and better. She’s got amazing concentration,” CAK head coach Michael Davis said. “… She’s so laser-focused on winning. She’s just driven to win every point.”