6 Takeaways From The 5th Region Tennis Tournament
6 Takeaways from the 5th Region Tennis Tournament
The Second Time was the Charm. Last year at this time, Elizabethtown junior singles player Kent Smith was living the good life as a new star on the horizon first defeating John Hardin’s Herbert Veldenz in the semi-finals of the 5th Region Tournament at Freeman Lake Tennis Courts. Upsetting the overall No.1 seed was a big lift for his confidence, but then was knocked off by teammate Ameer Haider in the Championship match the next day. This time around that wasn’t going to happen because Haider was now paired up with teammate Nathan Johnson in Doubles, so Smith, who won the Singles Title in the Conference Tournament last month over his younger brother Matthew Smith was about to go at it again in a most interesting “Family Affair” on Thursday afternoon for the Region Title. Older brother Kent didn’t have any problem handling younger brother Matthew winning 6-0 6-2 for the Singles Championship for a small amount of redemption.
The Boys Division is always a interesting. Change has been in order for the Boys division of the Regional Tennis competition as since Todd Atcher pulled off the championship for Elizabethtown tennis team at a time when they were very dominate, it’s really been quite a round robin affair with different champions in both the singles and doubles titles. That may have said more about the parity on the Boys side as we have seen champions from Marion County, North Hardin, Taylor County, Central Hardin, LaRue County and John Hardin have challenged. Two years ago it was two foreign exchange students in the Region final with Central Hardin’s Mats Eisenhardt and Taylor County’s Liam Schanders with the Cardinal coming out on top. This time around the surprise entry may have been Taylor County’s Doubles duo of Cooper Parks and Tyler Perkins, who pulled off a few surprises to make it to the Finals.
Look Who’s Back! With both the Region Singles Champions and Doubles Champion, Elizabethtown won the Region Team Title for the third straight season after going quite a while watching someone else do so. With the Smith brothers in the singles finals and Elizabethtown’s Patrick Lawson and Jared Towell in the Doubles finals beating Taylor County’s Cooper Parks and Tyler Perkins, it was the first time in quite a while when they took both championship trophys.
The New EMPIRE! It seemed like forever (or however long forever seems to a high school athlete) that Elizabethtown ruled the Girls Tennis 5th Region World and suddenly a new challenger has emerged as North Hardin took the 5th Region Girls Team Title for the second straight year. Last season, it was senior Hannah Lowman, in her first season as a singles player (making the move from doubles with Allie Sutton) winning the Singles Championship against teammate Addison Sutton while Allie Sutton and new teammate Alyssa Dowdell won the Doubles Title against teammates Lesleigh Lowman and Karina Carrasquillo. This year, there was still plenty of Blue and White to go around as Addison Sutton faced off against Elizabethtown’s Laura Hinkle and Sutton / Dowdell met Lowman / Carrasquillo again in the Doubles Final.
Changing Of The Guard! When Laura Hinkle was a freshman in 2015, the Elizabethtown Singles star won the 5th Region, then as a sophomore she won it again in 2016, then was beaten in the 2017 Region Semi’s in a marathon match against North Hardin’s eventual Region Champ Hannah Lowman. In her senior season, Hinkle got back in her groove and stood up to the challenge after an off junior year and has said she really has tried to enjoy her senior year. Meanwhile, junior Addison Sutton was just a seventh-grader when Hinkle won her first Region title and saw her win her second one the next year. Although rather small at that time, Sutton actually began growing going into her freshman year and REALLY improved her game before losing to Lowman in the Region Singles Final last season. This season, Sutton took a more deliberate approach after losing the Conference Title to Hinkle last month and attacked a little more after losing the first game and never let her get comfortable always staying on the attack winning the elusive title, 6-2 6-0 for the Singles Championship. In many ways it may have been a changing of the guard with Hinkle (senior) the two-time champ and Sutton (sophomore) the present champ playing for the trophy and now move on to state competition as Hinkle gets one last smell of the roses in Lexington.
Repeat Performance (But it Wasn’t Easy). On the surface, you might think because North Hardin put both Girls Doubles teams in the 5th Region Tournament Final, nobody losses. Tell the other team that, because even though seniors Allie Sutton and Alyssa Dowdell beat teammates Karina Carrasquillo and Lesleigh Lowman, it was a hotly contested match which had more twists and turns in a 7-6 (5), 5-7, (10-8) win than you could imagine. Because the match lasted so long, all attention was focused on the four combatants and it seemed like a pro-North Hardin crowd that remained cheered on the performances by both teams. Because the four play often against each other, they were well aware of each other’s strengths as well as weaknesses. That was reinforced when Carrasquillo and Lowman beat Sutton and Dowdell in the Conference Final last month. Both Carrasquillo and Lowman were able to use their size and net game to set up plays at the net to stay close in the Super Tiebreaker going up 8-7, but Sutton and Lowman were able to regain the lead at 9-8 and then pulling out the win on a cross-court volley. Afterwards both Sutton and Dowdell talked at length about perseverance and the satisfaction of being a repeat champion which was something no North Doubles team had done. Then they sent out a subtle warning that their two doubles teammates are most definitely not to be taken lightly anymore and will be the team to watch in 2019.