Carly Briggs had a long Saturday.
But it's all right — she signed up for it.
The 16-year-old Calhoun, Georgia, resident had advanced to the semifinals of the Tennessee Valley Open Championships in the women's open singles, women's open doubles and mixed open doubles divisions Saturday at Manker Patten. She was seeded No. 2 in all three.
Her singles match against recent East Tennessee State graduate and Signal Mountain resident Alory Pereira went three sets, with the fourth-seeded Pereira ultimately pulling out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win that took well over two hours.
Pereira will play Chattanooga native and former North Carolina star Hayley Carter, the No. 1 seed, in this morning's championship match at 10:30. The men's open final at 9 a.m. has top-seeded Isaiah Strode of El Cajon, California, facing his TVOC doubles partner, third-seeded Julian Bradley of Jacksonville, Florida.
Briggs is in one title match today. She paired with former Texas-El Paso player Davina Meza for a 7-6, 7-5 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide tandem of Alba Cortina Pou and Luca Fabian to set up a women's doubles final against top-seeded Carter and Ansley Speaks at 1.
Briggs and her brother Jake lost 7-5, 6-4 in a mixed doubles semifinal against Nashville-area residents Somer Henry and Andrew Rogers, who will face recent Baylor graduate Landie McBrayer and former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout Lucas Plesky in today's final at noon.
It was Jake — a rising sophomore at Belmont — who introduced Carly to the sport of tennis.
"Watching him play made me want to be better," Carly said Saturday while sitting next to a fan between matches. "I see him playing college matches, and it makes me look forward to college because it looks so fun.
"Him playing makes me want to be better."
Carly played No. 1 singles this season at Calhoun, although it was a position she didn't necessarily expect to occupy at the beginning of the school year. McCartney Kessler, a Florida commitment, was expected to be the Lady Yellow Jackets' top player but instead chose to sign and enroll at the Southeastern Conference school early. Kessler joined the Gators in January and helped them get to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The younger Briggs fit nicely in the No. 1 singles role, going 19-0 and leading the Lady Yellow Jackets to the Georgia Class AAA state semifinals. She's ranked as the No. 14 rising junior in the country, according to TennisRecruiting.net, with rankings of No. 3 in the state of Georgia and No. 5 in the Southeast.
And if tournaments like the TVOC are any indication, she's only going to get better.
"This has been a great tournament and I like it a lot," she said. "Obviously you play so many matches, but it's worth it. All of my competition has been real good — there hasn't been any easy matches, and I've had to fight in every one — but playing against college players makes me realize what I'm going to face when I go to college, so it helps me prepare for that.
"I entered today with no nerves. I felt I had nothing to lose because I was playing all college players, so I just played my game and hoped it worked."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.