Tigers doubles team of Graft/Akrami falls in final
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Spurred by a loss in the state final during his sophomore season, Brandon Lancaster completed a dominant two-year run through the State Tennis Championships on Saturday.
The St. Xavier High School senior won his second straight state singles title, beating Tigers teammate Drew Singerman 6-2, 6-2 in the final at the University of Kentucky’s Boone/Downing Tennis Complex.
In six matches this week, Lancaster didn’t lose a set and dropped just 13 total games.
A University of Louisville signee, Lancaster said a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Covington Catholic’s Austin Hussey in the 2013 state final provided motivation the past two years. He beat Hussey 5-7, 6-2, 10-8 in last year’s final.
“I couldn’t drive the ball through the court to beat Austin because he’s so good defensively,” he said. “I was pretty offensive then, but I’m even more offensive now. That’s what I’ve been working on the past couple of years – a bigger serve, a bigger forehand, finishing at the net. That’s what helped me win these two.”
Lancaster’s title completed a near-perfect run through the tournament for the Tigers, who captured their seventh straight team title Friday night by defeating Covington Catholic 3-0.
The only blip Saturday came in the doubles final, where the Tigers’ top-seeded team of Matt Graft and Kamron Akrami was defeated by McCracken County’s Tommy Hagan and Logan McKinney 6-4, 6-7 (0-7), 10-8.
Most observers believed Lancaster and Hussey – a UK signee – would meet in the singles final for the third straight year, but Singerman squashed that in Saturday’s semifinals with a 5-7, 6-3, 10-4 over Hussey.
The Lancaster-Hussey finals of the past two years were emotional affairs, with fans from both sides getting a bit rowdy. But with a pair of St. X players in Saturday’s final, the crowd was subdued.
Lancaster said he wasn’t disappointed by missing out on the emotion of a rematch with Hussey.
“I wouldn’t trade that for watching Drew play so well and having such a great tournament,” he said.
St. X coach Kerry Lancaster – Brandon’s father – stayed out of the way during the final, displaying little emotion as he watched.
He said he was a proud father after the match but also was relieved he’d no longer have to put up with the antics of his son and Singerman, a sophomore.
“They absolutely drive me nuts in the car and the hotel,” Kerry Lancaster said. “They just act like children around each other and have so much fun with each other and pick on each other. They mostly just double-team the rest of our team.”
Singerman said the semifinal victory over Hussey left him fatigued for the final but added, “I wouldn’t have beaten Brandon with fresh energy anyway. … He’s been a great teammate and a great friend.”
In the doubles final, Graft and Akrami seemed to have the momentum after sweeping the second-set tiebreaker 7-0 and taking a 1-0 lead in the third-set super breaker.
But Hagan and McKinney regained the momentum, taking a 7-4 lead before the St. X pair tied it at 8. Hagan and McKinney took a 9-8 lead on a shot that hit the line – the St. X pair called it out but was overruled by the chair umpire – and then won the match on Hagan’s slam at the net.
“If he misses by a half-inch, maybe we win,” Kerry Lancaster said of the point that gave McCracken County a 9-8 lead. “But that’s just doubles, especially indoor tennis and super breakers in third sets.”
Saturday’s matches were moved indoors because of rain.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
Brandon Lancaster (St. Xavier) def. Ryo Takeda (Henry Clay) 6-2, 6-2
Drew Singerman (St. Xavier) def. Austin Hussey (Covington Catholic) 5-7, 6-3, 10-4
Lancaster def. Singerman 6-2, 6-2
Kamron Akrami/Matt Graft (St. Xavier) def. Kiefer Mays/Noah Tapp (Henry Clay) 7-5, 6-3
Tommy Hagan/Logan McKinney (McCracken County) def. Brody Bilderback/Adam Slone (Lexington Christian) 3-6, 6-3, 10-8
Hagan/McKinney def. Akrami/Graft 6-4, 6-7 (0-7), 10-8
Brandon Lancaster (St. Xavier), Daniel Lineberry (Atherton), Ryo Takeda (Henry Clay), Sidak Grewal (Collegiate), Kai Suvimolstean (Oneida Baptist), Drew Singerman (St. Xavier), Caleb Buckman (Owensboro Catholic), Austin Hussey (Covington Catholic), Kamron Akrami (St. Xavier), Matt Graft (St. Xavier), Keifer May (Henry Clay), Noah Tapp (Henry Clay), Brody Bilderback (Lexington Christian), Adam Slone (Lexington Christian), Tommy Hagan (McCracken County), Logan McKinney (McCracken County), Cole McCreary (Lawrence County), Jack Kelly (Model), Ben Gornet (St. Xavier), Alex Spalding (Marion County), Mustafa Gardezi (Trinity).