The seedings held up, and Franklin County’s Kelley Barker and the doubles team of Lili Williams and Mary Grace Amato will be playing in the championship matches of the Region 8 tennis tournament today at FCHS.
Barker, seeded second in singles, will play top-seeded Aspen Jarrett of Oldham County, and Williams and Amato, the No. 1 seed in doubles, will play second-seeded Mallory Love and Maddie Waits of North Oldham.
The FCHS players won their semifinal matches Wednesday at Franklin County, with Williams and Amato defeating No. 3 Josie Olliges and Allison Reed of South Oldham 6-4, 6-2, and Barker ousting No. 4 seed Natalie Dearen of South Oldham 6-2, 6-1.
Western Hills sophomore Henry Collett faced No. 2 Cameron Mount of South Oldham in the semifinals Wednesday with Mount winning 6-2, 6-4.
All the participants who reached the semifinals earned a berth in the state tournament next week in Lexington.
Williams and Amato had a relatively easy time Wednesday after having to go to a super tiebreaker Tuesday in the quarterfinals against North Oldham’s Liz Whitman and Erin Biddle.
“We didn’t want that to happen again,” Williams said about the quarterfinals. “That was great motivation. We wanted to avoid that at all costs.”
The FCHS seniors did, keeping the match to two sets.
“After winning yesterday we felt a lot better about this as a whole,” Amato said of the tournament. “We’re excited about going to state, but we really want to win this whole thing.”
Barker, a sophomore, dropped the first game of her match and wasn’t happy about it.
“Because in the regular season I beat her 6-0, 6-0,” Barker said. “I had some high expectations of myself and I didn’t count on that, but I picked it up after that.”
“The only way Natalie was going to beat Kelley was with a lot of lobs and slowing the pace,” FCHS coach Melinda Lewis said. “Kelley is used to a fast pace, and it took her some time to adjust to the pace. It was smart on Natalie’s part.”
After dropping the first game Barker lost just two more the rest of the match.
“I could have done better,” she said. “I came out with a win, but it’s not exactly the way I wanted to win.”
Today Barker faces Jarrett. Barker has beaten Jarrett before but not this season, and in their regular-season match Jarrett won. It was Barker’s only loss in regional play.
“Aspen is one of my best friends,” Barker said. “It should be a very good match.” Jarrett and Barker are doubles partners in USTA matches.
Collett, after losing the first set 6-2 Wednesday, came back to take a 3-2 lead in the second set. Mount rallied to win the set 6-4.
“I made better shot selections,” Collett said about the second set, “and I stuck with them. He’s just been playing a little longer than I have, even though he’s a year younger.”
The match was closer than the score indicates.
“Give me five points he won, and I’ve won the match,” Collett said. “We went deuce almost every game, all of them but two or three. We had a lot of long games, and it was a lot tougher match than the score shows.”
Collett’s focus is now on the state tournament, where he will be making his second straight appearance.
“Hopefully I’ll get a good draw,” he said, “and if I get the worst draw I can I get to play the best in the state.”
The state tournament starts May 15 in Lexington with the boys playing at the University of Kentucky and the girls at Shillito Park on the opening day.
The entire tournament moves to UK May 16 and runs through May 17.
In the regional tournament, North Oldham and South Oldham are tied for first place in the girls team standings with 15 points each, and FCHS is in third place with 12 points.
Jarrett reached today’s final with a 6-0, 6-0 win over third-seeded Rheagan Riggs of North Oldham Wednesday, and Love and Waits defeated the No. 4 doubles team of Hannah Walker and Jennifer Liu of South Oldham 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.
South Oldham leads the boys team standings with 14 points, and North Oldham is second with nine.
Mount will face teammate Jordan Pitts, the No. 1 seed, in today’s final. Pitts defeated fourth-seeded Hunter Norris of Bullitt East 6-0, 6-0 Wednesday.
North Oldham’s doubles team of Seth Wallace and David Kline, the No. 1 seed, will face third-seeded Dawson Bezehertny and Tony Liu of South Oldham in the title match.
In the semifinals Wallace and Kline defeated fifth-seeded Derek Stivers and Cy Dutton of Collins 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (7), and Bezehertny and Liu defeated Shelby County’s Doug Martin and Jeron Russell, the No. 2 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3).