To measure the depth of the St. Xavier High School tennis squad, consider that its top player, University of Alabama-bound Sean Donohue, didn’t even play in Friday’s team final of the State Tournament.
And the Tigers still won with ease.
Nick Quinones and Liam Friel won their doubles match and Brandon Lancaster and Parker Thieneman both won in singles as St. X beat Lone Oak 3-0 at the University of Kentucky’s Boone/Downing Tennis Complex for its fifth straight state title and record 21st overall.
Of the Tigers’ top six players — all of whom are alive for individual singles or doubles championships today — only three played in the team final.
“All year we’ve been practicing for this, and our depth is ridiculous,” Thieneman said. “Coach (Kerry) Lancaster always says that some of the kids that are 10 through 15 on our team could go to any other school in the state and be in the lineup.”
The team tournament featured a best-of-five format, with three singles and two doubles matches played simultaneously.
Quinones and Friel won their No. 1 doubles match 6-0, 6-3, and St. X took a 2-0 lead when Brandon Lancaster won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. The only drama left was which of the Tigers could clinch the decisive third point. Thieneman was the one, beating Logan McKinney 6-2, 6-2.
Lone Oak coach Larry Heflin was impressed.
“They’re very, very deep and blessed to have that much talent to give (Donohue) a chance to rest,” he said. “It was very smart. Our kids played well, but congratulations to St. X. It’s one of their best teams I’ve seen in all of these years.”
The Tigers could have all four singles and doubles finalists today. Donohue, the defending singles champion, will face Covington Catholic’s Austin Hussey in a semifinal at 11 a.m. The other semifinal will match second-seeded Emerson Walsh of Trinity against the Tigers’ Brandon Lancaster, the No. 4 seed. The final is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Kerry Lancaster, Brandon’s father, said it would be a “monumental upset” if his son beats Walsh.
“He’s played Walsh twice and lost pretty handily both times,” the coach said.
The 9 a.m. doubles semifinals will pit St. X’s top-seeded Zachary Kuo and Thieneman against Sam Hughes and Luke Yurkoski of Henry Clay and the Tigers’ second-seeded Coleman Cox and Nick Waldeck against No. 3 Mustafa Gardezi and Randy Strause of Trinity. The doubles final is set for 1:30 p.m.