Three Grayson County tennis players will participate next week at the Kentucky State Tennis Championships after runner-up finishes at the 3rd Region Tennis Tournament this past week in Owensboro.
Sophomore Grace Gorby, 3rd Region singles champion for the past two years, was knocked off in the final by Hancock County junior, Ally Delaney, 6-1, 7-5.
The doubles duo of freshman Isaac Jarboe and senior Sam Embry earned their trip to state in spectacular fashion after knocking off the number-one seed in the tournament in Wednesday’s semi-final to reach Thursday’s final.
Jarboe and Embry entered the tournament as the fifth seed and defeated Apollo’s Andy Blanton and Evan Tidwell 6-2, 6-0 in their first match on Monday. In the quarter-final, the duo beat the number-four seeded team of A. J. and Jack Iracane, of Owensboro, 6-3, 6-2.
That put them into the semi-final against the top seeded team, Daniel Jacobs and Isaac Settle, of Owensboro Catholic. The match began following form as the top seed took the first set easily, 6-2.
But things began to turn around in the second set, with the Grayson County pair taking advantage of the Aces’ mistakes. The second set wound up in a 6-6 tie, and in the tie-breaker, Embry and Jarboe prevailed 8-6.
That necessitated a 10-point tie-breaker to decide the match and even that went over. Having to win by two points and leading 10-9, the Grayson County pair took the next point to win the match, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 11-9 and the large crowd of Cougar supporters went wild.
The win put them into the regional final and assured the Cougar pair of a spot in the state tournament next week in Lexington. In the final, they would face another Owensboro Catholic doubles combination, Aaron Buckman and J. T. Hayden, who were the third-seeded team in the tournament.
Though playing well and scoring some big points, Jarboe and Embry fell in the first set 0-6. In the second set they began playing even better. They broke the serve of the Aces’ pair and led at one point 3-2. But the Catholic duo won the next two games to go ahead 4-3 and they never trailed again, eventually winning the second set 6-4 to claim the championship.
The women’s singles was a match of familiar foes. Delaney handed Gorby a defeat during the regular season last year, but Gorby got her back in the regional final, winning her second consecutive singles title in straight sets.
This season, Delaney got Gorby again in the final match of the regular season, just a week before the start of the regional tournament. That gave her confidence heading into the region and she made it pay off as she dominated Gorby in the opening set and played a winning strategy throughout the match.
“I’ve worked really hard this past year,” Delaney said after the match. “My coach stressed not hitting it to her at the net because she kills you that way.”
Instead, Delaney was using drop shots just over the net to draw Gorby in, then either lobbing over the top or hitting passing shots, leaving Gorby frustrated.
“My shots were falling tonight,” Delaney said.
Gorby reached the final after defeating Apollo’s Jenna Payne 6-3, 6-0, and Owensboro Catholic’s Caroline O’Nan 6-1, 6-2.
Gorby got behind right off the bat, double-faulting on her first serve, then double faulting again in the first game. Delaney broke Gorby’s serve in the first game, then held her own serve to lead 2-0. When she broke Gorby again in the third game, she held a nearly insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Gorby broke Delaney’s serve in the fourth game, giving her hope of a comeback, but when Delaney broke right back for a 4-1 lead, the match seemed over. Delaney went on to win the first set 6-1.
The second set was one of breaks on both sides. Gorby broke Delaney’s serve in the first game for a 1-0 lead, but Delaney broke right back to tie it 1-1. Delaney held serve to lead 2-1, but Gorby also held her serve to tie it 2-2, then broke Delaney again to lead 3-2.
But once again, Delaney broke Gorby’s serve to tie things once again at 3-3. Gorby got another break in the following game, then held her serve to lead 5-3 and was just a game away from tying the match and sending it into a tie-breaker.
But Delaney held serve, then broke Gorby again to tie the match at 5-5. Gorby double-faulted at game-point to give Delaney the deciding point.
Delaney then held her serve to take a 6-5 lead. Gorby served the next game, which went to deuce after a strong Gorby serve was hit long by Delaney. Gorby lost the next point and served Delaney’s first match point. When Gorby double-faulted again, Delaney had the 3rd Region crown in hand.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.