Plenty of story lines accompany Northern Kentucky’s top contenders to Lexington for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state tennis tournaments.
Up for grabs are boys’ and girls’ singles, doubles and team championships, all being contested by a smattering of area qualifiers. Heading to Lexington as unbeatens are Covington Catholic’s Austin Hussey, 17-0 and the No. 2-seeded boys’ singles player, and the 17-0 Notre Dame Academy tennis team, in today’s semifinals against Russell.
Hussey, a four-time regional champion, is attempting to regain his state crown. He won the singles title in 2013 as a sophomore against Louisville St. Xavier’s Brandon Lancaster, 6-5, 7-5, but lost to Lancaster in last year’s final, 5-7, 6-2, 10-8. Lancaster is top-seeded. The University of Kentucky-bound Hussey said focus will be the key this time around.
“I really like how focused I am right now,” said the Colonels’ senior standout. He hasn’t dropped a set this season. “I felt like I lost my focus last year. This year, I’ve also worked a lot harder. I’m more motivated.”
Two locations, Shillito Park Tennis Complex and University of Kentucky’s Boone/Downing Tennis Complex, host the state events. Competition gets underway today with 8 a.m. opening-round action. First-round singles and doubles matches start at Shillito Park for boys and begin at Boone/Downing Complex for girls.
Looking for her first state singles championship after last year’s near miss is senior Meredith Laskey, a seven-time regional champion for sectional runner-up Highlands. Laskey, the No. 2 seed and heading to the Air Force Academy, lost to McCracken County’s Michelle McKamey in last year’s final. McKamey, a sophomore, is the top seed.
Today’s 5 p.m. girls’ team semifinals, pitting sectional champions, are followed by the 6:30 p.m. boys’ team semifinals. Notre Dame plays Russell in the girls’ semis. CovCath, the area’s first boys’ sectional champion, takes on Ashland Blazer in the team semis. Friday’s 5 p.m. girls’ team final precedes the 6:30 p.m. boys’ final, all at Boone/Downing Tennis Complex.
Notre Dame has previous state crowns to its credit. CovCath hasn’t made it this far, beating a Lexington-area team for the first time in last week’s sectional round.