Changes afoot in regional tennis tourney

May 06, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

There are obvious changes in the regional tennis tournaments this season, such as where and when they'll be played. But there are also more subtle shifts for the area schools competing over the next two weekends.

Fewer local players and teams would seem to have a chance at the championships when the girls begin their 9th Region Tournament today and the boys follow suit next week in Berea.

Gone are the dominant teams such as those fielded by the Danville girls and Harrodsburg boys for several seasons in a row. Also gone are last year's singles champions, four-time winner Jeff Lester of Harrodsburg and three-time winner Casie Phillips of Danville.

A list of the top five seeds for the boys and girls singles and doubles draws has a combined total of three local entries. One bracket, the boys doubles draw, finds no local duo seeded better than seventh.


The most noticeable change in this year's tournaments is the move from Richmond to Berea. The new tournament manager, Madison Southern coach Elaine Phillips, orchestrated a move from Eastern Kentucky University to the courts at Berea College and Madison Southern.

In case of rain, matches will still be played on EKU's indoor courts.

The schedule has also been stretched out with the addition of a fourth day. The few first-round matches and all second-round matches in the girls brackets will be played today, third-round matches are Friday, quarterfinals are Saturday and the last two rounds are Sunday. The boys will follow the same schedule next week.

Boyle's doubles team is top seed among area girls

The top seed among area girls players is Boyle County's doubles team of Jennifer Gander and Meredith McCann, which is seeded second behind a team from Model.

The Boyle duo will seek to go one step further than Gander and Marianna Richardson did last season, when they were regional runners-up.

"I think Jennifer's experience from last year's regional ... may prove to be a valuable asset," Boyle coach Alice Luscher said. "Jennifer is hitting the ball a lot stronger, and her serve has really improved since last season. Meanwhile, Meredith is a very consistent and smart player, thus complementing Jennifer's style of play."

Next on the list are Natasha Bianchi and Kristin Patterson of Lincoln County at No. 6, which is a milestone for Lincoln's rebuilding team.

"This is their first year together," Lincoln coach Tiffany Patterson said. "We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores and two middle-schoolers."

In the girls singles bracket, Harrodsburg's Brooke Sheperson, who has played doubles in each of her previous postseasons, is the top local seed at No. 4. Her teammate, Sky Shannon, is next at No. 6.

Ten-year-old CeCe Witten of Boyle is the only other seeded singles player at No. 8.

"CeCe could really surprise some of the top seeds at the tournament," Luscher said.

Leading boys seeds come from Garrard County

The leading boys seeds come from Garrard County, where first-year player Phillip Arndt is seeded second behind Model's Jeff Rutherford, while veteran Will Stevens is sixth.

"It's nothing that I've done," Garrard coach Mike Stevens said. "But we've got a lot of kids that we're proud of that have done real well."

The top local doubles seed is the Harrodsburg team of Robbie Merriman and Travis White, which was ranked seventh.

"They've not played as much together as they would have in the past because I was a little unsure what I was going to do with them this year. But they've been playing really well together," Dunagan said.

One spot behind them is the Danville duo of Casey Maupin and Chris Bright.

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