Kaitlyn Harrison’s development as a No. 1 singles tennis player has been a steady one.
So has Richmond’s team, and more proof came Friday.
After losing to Hagerstown’s Savannah Houck in a three-set season opener, Harrison completed a 4-1 victory for Richmond in the championship match of the IHSAA girls tennis sectional at Richmond High School’s tennis courts.
Richmond hosts the regional semifinals Tuesday with the championship scheduled for Wednesday.
The Red Devils (12-2) are reigning champions of their regional after advancing to semistate in 2014.
This year, however, the Red Devils are a new team, returning just Harrison and Cami Jones from last year’s doubles team. They are now the 1 and 2 singles players.
“I think it’s a little different this year, because we don’t have one girl playing in the same position that we did last year,” Richmond coach Randy Hollingsworth said. “I think it’s quite an accomplishment. I think we’re 12-2 right now, and honestly, I did not expect that because of losing all three singles players. Any time you lose all three singles players, that takes a hit on your program. The girls have worked hard and we’ve had an excellent season, so we’ll see what happens come regional.”
Harrison lost the regular season meeting 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) but came out on top 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 Friday, completing the victory as the Red Devils won a fifth straight sectional title.
“It felt really good,” Harrison said. “It was my first match at singles at the beginning of the year, so I was really nervous. It just feels really good to get a win, but it was really good to realize how much I’ve improved, just because I went into a third set and I was able to pull it out this time.”
The Red Devils had earned the team victory way before as Jones and Kayla Owens won at No. 2 and 3 singles respectively.
Jones took care of Hayley Hollenberg 6-3, 6-0 before Owens defeated Kayla McFarland 6-4, 6-1.
Maia Van Buskirk and Juliana Qin clinched the victory with a 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 2 doubles, before Tawni Brown and Olivia Houck earned Hagerstown’s win 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
Hagerstown concludes a breakout season with a 13-6 record, playing its best tennis at the best time.
The Tigers won the Tri-Eastern Conference tournament held Saturday, Monday and Tuesday at Hagerstown, but finished second in the overall standings as Centerville rode a 7-0 regular season to first place.
“It was a great season,” said Hagerstown first-year head coach Stephanie Beeson. “Girls worked really hard. We ended up 13-6, which to me that’s pretty good. To make it to the finals and give them a little bit of a match, I’m very pleased. Very proud of them. They did their best and we just got beat by a better team.”
SINGLES– 1. Kaitlyn Harrison (RICH) def. Savannah Houck 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; 2. Cami Jones (RICH) def. Hayley Hollenberg 6-3, 6-0; 3. Kayla Owens (RICH) def. Kayla McFarland 6-4, 6-1.
DOUBLES– 1. Tawni Brown and Olivia Houck (HAG) def. Emma Lady and Krissy Kramer 7-5, 1-6, 6-2; 2. Maia VanBuskirk and Juliana Qin (RICH) def. MeKayla Todd and McKenzie Fleming 6-4; 6-2.