After finishing the season with an unblemished, 17-0 record, the Lady Cougar tennis team suffered its first loss on Saturday, dropping a 3-0 decision to Owensboro Catholic in the 3rd Region Team Championship, held at Moreland Park , in Owensboro.
Grayson County had Catholic scheduled twice during the regular season, but both matches were washed out due to rain. They went into Saturday’s final without really knowing what they would be facing.
The format for the regional finals was different from what it had been in the past. Before, individuals and doubles teams were seeded based on their records during the regular season, then everyone played in an elimination bracket, playing down to the individual finals.
For every individual win, teams earned one point toward the team title. Whoever had the most points at the end was declared the team champion.
This time around, though, things were different. Eight teams began elimination play on Friday to determine the team winner. The individual players and doubles teams were then seeded for another tournament, which began on Monday, to determine the singles and doubles champions in both boys and girls competition.
Opponents in the first round of the team competition were determined in a blind draw. The Lady Cougars drew Meade County, while the Cougars drew regional favorite Owensboro Catholic.
Each team selected three singles players and two doubles teams to play head-to-head, with the first team to win three of those matches declared the winner.
The Cougars, who finished a fine season with a 13-4 record, were quickly eliminated by the Aces. Freshman Isaac Jarboe faced top-seeded Caleb Buckman, and after dropping the first set 3-6, Jarboe had to withdraw after turning an ankle, giving the match to Buckman by forfeit.
Tristan Deering, the Cougar number-three singles, dropped his match 1-6, 2-6 to Nick Boarman, while the number-one doubles team of Spencer Sharp and Lincoln Nichols lost their match 2-6, 1-6 to the Aces’ J. T. Hayden and Aaron Buckman.
The Lady Cougars zipped through two quick singles matches with number-one Grace Gorby defeating Meade County’s Brigid DeVries 6-0, 6-0, and number-three Bailey Decker beating Heather Cook by the same score.
The Lady Cougars’ number one doubles team of Kandler Lindsey and Mackenzie Edwards won in split sets against Meade’s Collyn Bradley and Madeline Beavin. The Lady Cougar duo won the first set easily, 6-2, but dropped the second set 4-6.
That forced a 10-point tie-breaker and the Lady Cougars took no prisoners, winning going away 10-2 and thus winning the match.
That set up a semi-final on Saturday against Daviess County. In singles, Gorby defeated Jaclyn Hume 6-2, 6-0, while Decker beat Maddy Van Hulse 6-2, 6-3. Lindsey and Edwards breezed through their match against Piper Cannon and Grace Thacker 6-2, 6-1 to send the Lady Cougars into the final.
Grayson County battled hard against the Lady Aces, but ultimately were beaten by a superior team. The Lady Aces’ number-two singles player, Caroline O’Nan defeated Kourtnee Hayes 6-4, 6-1, while number-three Caroline O’Nan beat Decker 6-3, 6-0.
In doubles the Aces’ number-two team of Grace Goedde and Meredith Stiff beat Emma Escue and Keragan Collard by a score of 6-3, 6-4, ending the match and giving Catholic the title. Only Gorby was ahead in her match when play was halted. She won the first set 6-1 over Sarah Brown and was ahead 4-3 in the second when play was halted.
Play for the individual championships began Monday night at Moreland Park. Gorby, who is the two-time singles champion coming into the tournament, received the second seed after dropping a match to Hancock County’s Ally Delaney last week. Delaney received the number-one seed.
Gorby drew a bye in the first round, then defeated Abbie Booty, of Frederick Fraize, 6-0, 6-0. Decker defeated Owensboro’s Lindsey Williams in the second round 6-1, 6-2, and was scheduled to play DeVries, the number-three seed, in a semi-final match on Tuesday.
The Lady Cougars’ top doubles team of Hayes and Edwards received the third seed and had a bye in the first round. The number-two team of Lindsey and Emma Escue drew the top-seeded team of Hayden and Brown and were defeated 2-6, 0-6.
None of the Cougars received any of the top-six singles seeds. Their top singles player, freshman Spencer Sharp, drew number-five seed Brennan Grubb, of Butler County, in the second round and fell 2-6, 2-6. Number two singles, freshman Lincoln Nichols, lost to Daviess County’s Chris Salamah 4-6, 4-6.
Jarboe and senior Sam Embry received the number-five seed in the doubles tournament and drew a bye into the second round, where they defeated Andy Blanton and Evan Tidwell, of Apollo, 6-2, 6-0.
The number-two Cougar team of eighth-graders Miles Hornbeck and Spencer Cannon won their first-round match 6-3, 6-2 over Butler County’s Hagan Moore and Dillon McCoy. That sent them into the second round against Catholic’s Buckman and Hayden, the tournament’s third seed, where their tournament ended, 0-6, 0-6.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.