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The opening round of the 5th Region Tennis Tournament on Friday at the Freeman Lake Tennis Complex didn’t produce any major upsets, but that doesn’t mean it lacked drama or intrigue.
Seven matches were tied after two sets, going to a super tiebreaker instead of a third set, and all but two of those involved an area player.
Central Hardin sophomores Hadley Handel and Chloe Sheeran dropped the first to the North Hardin duo of freshman Mary Kate Dennis and sixth-grader Addison Sutton, but managed to pull even by winning a second set tiebreaker.
Handel and Sheeran looked in complete control in the super tiebreaker, building a 9-6 lead, but Dennis and Sutton won four consecutive points to stave off elimination and had an opportunity to win the match.
Tied at 10, two unforced errors led to a 3-6, 7-6 (8), 1-0 (12-10) victory for Handel and Sheeran.
“It was nerve racking,” Handel said. “They are one heck of a team. We beat them twice, but they won the last match and the odds were in their favor. It was crazy.”
Handel said they had to change their tactic after Dennis and Sutton dominated the first set.
“We had to play the lob game,” Handel said. “North is real good at the net, so we had to use the lob. Coach (Eric Mitchell) gave us some great advice and we put that advice into action. I have to give a lot of credit to my partner. Chloe played great.”
Meade County senior Mac Montgomery beat Campbellsville eighth-grader Jackson Hunt, 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6), while North Hardin juniors Alex Hardy and Hunter Maxwell knocked out Bardstown Bethlehem senior Jantzen Sivori and freshman Davis Downs, 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (10-3).
The LaRue County duo of freshman Bella Garcia and eighth-grader Karrington Donahue weren’t as fortunate as they fell to Campbellsville senior Emily Haley and sophomore Brittany Ford, 6-3, 1-6, 1-0 (11-9).
John Hardin senior Jonathan Casoni and sophomore Miguel Herrera lost in similar fashion, 6-3, 1-6, 1-0 (10-7).
Other than the matches features a super tiebreaker, the region tournament went according to plan as every seeded individual or doubles teams which played advanced, and relatively easy.
The only top seed to take the court was Elizabethtown junior Mackenzie Snow and sophomore Toni Pfeiffer, which breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 victory. Snow partnered with sister, Mary-Chapin, to win the two previous doubles championships. Snow and Pfeiffer won the conference title, but Snow said getting a region win was an important step.
“Region isn’t the same as other tournaments,” Snow said. “Toni wasn’t nervous at all. She was ready to go and ready to win. I think playing on the first day made us more prepared to get this done instead of resting.”
Other area seeded girls’ doubles teams to advance included North Hardin freshman Hannah Lowman and eighth-grader Allie Sutton (No. 2 seed), Elizabethtown sophomore Carley Pyles and eighth-grader Laura Hinkle (No. 4 seed), Meade County seniors Brenna Wheatley and Ellie DeVries (No. 5 seed) and Central Hardin senior Ashlee O’Brien and sophomore Kayla Ditto (No. 6 seed).
With the top two seeds received a bye in girls’ singles, Central Hardin junior Riley Keys (No. 3 seed), Elizabethtown junior Lauran Berger (No. 6 seed) and North Hardin junior Amanda Patterson (No. 7 seed) cruised in the first round as each just dropped one game to reach the second round.
“I was still a little nervous because it’s such a big tournament,” Patterson said. “I was inconsistent at first, but I found my rhythm near the end. This gives me a lot more confidence, so this was a good win for me.”
On the boys’ side, third-seeded John Hardin sophomore Carson McCann rolled in his opening match with a 6-0, 6-1 victory as did Elizabethtown senior Faizan Movania (No. 4 seed) and Central Hardin senior Joel Nason (No. 5 seed). North Hardin sophomore Jonah Gillespie, seeded sixth, labored through the first set before pulling out a 7-5, 6-2 win.
In doubles’ action, LaRue County seniors Kyler Hart and Trevor Sanders (No. 2 seed), Elizabethtown senior Daniel Crain and freshman Nathan Henson (No. 4 seed), Central Hardin seniors Kevin Britt and Kyle Compton (No. 7 seed) John Hardin freshman Herbert Veldenz and eighth-grader Nathan Anderson (No. 8 seed) all won in straight sets.
The tournament resumes at 4:30 p.m. Monday with the second round.