Top players take out tennis Knight, Lady Knights

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By Jessica Veatch and Josh Veatch

Three members of the Marion County tennis teams competed in the state tournament last Thursday.
Sophomore Alex Spalding, who won the regional crown, competed in the state tournament at Shillito Park for the Knights, while the duo of Elyssa Holt and Madison Cassidy, who were regional semifinalists to earn their state spot, competed at the University of Kentucky Boone/Downing Tennis Center for the Lady Knights.
In singles, Spalding won his first round match against Pineville’s Luke Brooks, 6-7, 6-2, 10-5, but fell in his second round match to the top seed, Sean Donahue from St. Xavier, 6-1, 6-0.
“Alex was our only representative at this year’s state tournament,” Knights Coach Landon Williams said. “In the first round, he drew a region winner from Pineville who took the first set. Alex was a little nervous early and made some mistakes he doesn’t normally make. Once he settled down and jumped out to an early lead in the second set, the complexion of the match really changed. Alex began to take advantage from the baseline, which was to his advantage, and he made better decisions as the match progressed.”
Spalding’s second round opponent was the defending state champion.
“In the high school tennis world, there’s no arguing that Donahue is the best in Kentucky,” Williams said. “For Alex, this was an opportunity to learn from an older, more advanced player and he represented our team and school in a big way.”
Williams said Spalding’s only losses were to Division I signees, Tanner Love (Texas Christian University) and Donahue (Alabama)
“That is impressive and if he stays focused, the next couple of years will be a lot of fun,” Williams said.


Second seeds top local pair
In doubles, Holt and Cassidy won their first round match of the state tournament against Metcalfe County’s Miranda Devore and Sydney Edwards, 6-3, 6-2.
Like Spalding, they also fell in the second round. They lost to Notre Dame’s Laura Irons and Catriona Shaughnessey, the No. 2 seeded team of the tournament, 6-0, 6-1.
“These players lived up to their top rank,” Coach Angela Holt said about the Lady Knights’ second round opponents.  “Elyssa and Madison faced serves that were extremely powerful and that had lots of spin and kick to them. They had not experienced anything quite like that in the matches they played this season.”
Coach Holt added that her players could take some consolation knowing they lost to the eventual state runner-up.
“I’m very proud of the way that the girls played throughout their senior season,” she said. “Their skill and leadership will be missed next year.”