High School Sports

Henry Clay boys win again in region tennis; Gallagher breaks through for Scott County girls

Paul Laurence Dunbar's Matt Halpin returns the ball during his singles match against Henry Clay's Noah Tapp during the 11th Region tennis finals at the University of Kentucky, Thursday, May 11, 2017.
Paul Laurence Dunbar's Matt Halpin returns the ball during his singles match against Henry Clay's Noah Tapp during the 11th Region tennis finals at the University of Kentucky, Thursday, May 11, 2017. aslitz@herald-leader.com

One of this year’s 11th Region tennis team champions was a regular. The other took the crown for the first time in school history.

Henry Clay was officially crowned as the 11th Region boys’ team titlist following the final round of play Thursday at UK, though the Blue Devils had locked up the honor before the end of Wednesday’s semifinals. It was the 10th boys’ team title in the last 12 seasons for the program, which finished as the state runners-up last year to St. Xavier.

On the girls’ side, Scott County took home the first-place trophy and was the second public school to win the event in as many years (Henry Clay swept the team titles last season). The Cardinals also had their first girls’ singles winner in Olivia Gallagher, an eighth-grader who responded in a tiebreaker set after dropping a tight second set to Lexington Catholic freshman Amanda Miller, who fell in her second straight region final.

Gallagher went up 4-0 in the tiebreaker before Miller answered with four straight points. The two traded leads before Gallagher finished on a 5-1 run to take the match.

“Amanda played a great match,” said Gallagher, who was in her first 11th Region finals after being home schooled last year. “It was a great experience. … She played better the second set and really stepped up her game, so I had to do the same.”

Matt Halpin, a sophomore at Paul Laurence Dunbar, repeated as the boys’ single champion after taking down Henry Clay’s Noah Tapp, a senior and three-time region champ in the doubles competition. The first set went to a tiebreaker and Tapp led, 2-1, in the second set before Halpin swept to the title.

Halpin, who lost to defending singles state champion Drew Singerman (St. Xavier) in last year’s quarterfinals, is ranked in the top 100 for his age group by the United States Tennis Association. He likely will be slotted as a two seed (behind Singerman) in next weekend’s state tournament.

“I got better as it went on (today), pretty much,” said Halpin, whose win pushed Dunbar ahead of Model for second place in the boys’ team standings. “ … I was serving well today. I think I’ll definitely get further than the quarters (at state), hopefully.”

It was an all-Henry Clay championship for the boys’ doubles title. Will Andrews and Matt Telfer, who finished behind Tapp and Keifer Mays (who graduated) in 2016’s finals, took the victory over teammates Brett Folsom and Philip Priest.

Folsom and Priest gave them a run early in both matches, but the winners took command for 6-3 victories in straight sets.

“We’ve played really well in the region this year and haven’t dropped a match yet, so this was ours,” Andrews said. “This felt like it was ours. And I just wanted to do it for us and especially for Matt, because he’s a senior and I won’t get to do this with him. It won’t be the same without him.”

Lexington Christian claimed second place in the girls’ team standings thanks, in part, to an upset in the doubles finals. Jessica Hill and Caroline Lancaster, seeded second in the tournament, evened up their season record against their top-seeded Scott County counterparts — Grace Gardner and Lauren Moore — to 2-2 after taking their championship match. The LCA duos’ win tied their team with Lexington Catholic in the overall point standings, and the Eagles’ team win percentage in the tournament broke the tie.

The finals were scheduled to be played at LCA but were moved to the University of Kentucky’s Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex because of rain.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

State tournament

When: May 18-20 (Play begins at 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturday)

Where: Shillito Park and UK courts in Lexington

Admission: Free on Thursday. $10 Friday. $10 Saturday (ages 10 and under admitted free all three days)