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To say the Region 8 tennis tournament experienced a wacky week is an understatement. Saying it did not go as Anderson County had hoped is not.
The Bearcats and Lady Bearcats were shut out of state qualifiers in a week that might have been dominated by the weather more than anyone's serve or backhand. Monday's first round was delayed, delayed again, then eventually called after a few matches because of rains that threatened all week.
The scheduling through the first three rounds might have amounted to doing so on the fly. The strange week might have been underscored by a No. 9 seed, the South Oldham girls' doubles team of Josie Olliges and Anna Townsend surprising everyone by winning the championship over sixth-seeded Jennifer Liu and Hannah Walker.
Let that sink in: A nine-seed over a six-seed for the title.
But for Anderson, that did not hurt as much as the two best hopes, boys singles entry Ty Glover and the girls' doubles' team of Amanda and Hannah Wampler, go down short of the regional final four and a berth at the state.
Glover, seeded fifth, advanced deeper into the tournament than any other Anderson entry. In the boys' tourney, at Franklin County, Glover made the quarterfinals before Western Hills' Henry Collett, seeded third, eliminated Glover in a super tie-breaker. Collett had scored a 6-2 win in the first set, but Glover responded with a win by the same score in the second. Collett took control quickly in the new tie-breaker system that eliminated the third set.
Collett prevailed in the tie-breaker, 10-3, to advance to the state.
“I couldn't have asked for anything more out of Ty,” Anderson boys' coach T.J. Spivey said. “He struggled in the first set and lost 6-2, We gathered our thoughts, made a few strategy changes and he won the second set. He fought hard in the tie-breaker for the third, it's just really hard to go from playing a six-game set to having to win a 10-point tie-breaker. I could not have been any more proud of how he performed.”
Across town at Western Hills High School, the Wamplers, last year's regional runner-up team, were upset in the second round by the Oldham County tandem of Kamber Heil and Hannah Grau, 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8).
“We had hoped for our No. 1 doubles team to make a run at the state again,” said Anderson girls' coach Jeremy Cook. “I tried not to make that a point of focus during the season. We just wanted everyone to improve from one match to another and not put undue stress on our players. It's not easy in any sport to repeat in an event. I still believe that the Wampler sisters are one of the best doubles teams in the Eighth Region.”
Cook did allow that the rains might have had something to do with some of the unusual finishes, even though all had to deal with the weather. “This year's tournament has been tough on a lot of teams,” he said. “We are all used to playing all day Monday and then coming back after school to finish the tournament. I think the weather caused teams to lose focus. … In doubles, the number one and two seeds got beat by much lower seeds and in girls' tennis, that does not happen a lot. But with that said, that is why we play the matches. Just because everyone thinks some team should win does not mean they will.”
Cook feels the scoring change in high school tennis this year is a mistake. “I think this hurts a lot of teams,” he said. “If you lose the first set, then come back to win the second, the tie-break is such a change in pace that it breaks your momentum. I know they are trying to speed the game up but tennis is not played in that format at any (other) level. I think it takes something away from the game. But if that is how they want it done, then we must learn to play that way.”
Anderson did have some bright spots in the girls' doubles team of Jacy Isaacs and Kylie Gehefer along with the boys' team of Nathan Pulcifer and Josh Fugate both advanced to the second round before being eliminated by highly-seeded teams.
“They played well and I was proud of how they did,” Spivey said of Pulcifer and Fugate. “They won a super tie-breaker in their first round match and that's not easy to do.”
The Anderson girls' No. 1 singles' entry, Hannah Lewis, also advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Haylee Benefield of Bullitt Central but then fell, 6-2, 6-0 to Paige Kregor of Collins.
“Looking back at a season that started early with a lot of bad weather causing us to not be outside for practice or games, I cold not be more pleased with the effort of our team. They gave their best each and every time,” Cook said.
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