Thursday, May 14, 2015

Highlands Tennis Heads to State Tournament with High Hopes

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Meredith Laskey is hoping for another shot at the singles state championship after finishing runner-up last year.
The majority of the Highlands qualifiers for the state tournament have something that can't be coached.

That's experience. Six of the seven qualifiers went to Lexington last year.

"It doesn't always work out that way," said Kristen Laskey, Highlands Head Coach. "But in the girls' case, they've all been there and it does make a difference. There's a lot more crowd cheering after round two. It's not a typical tennis scene. They all are used to it. For Peter to go there with some experienced players, it's great. If they do their best, I think good things will happen."

Senior Meredith Laskey is making her eighth consecutive appearance there. She has won seven straight 10th Region singles titles and finished runner-up to her sister Carrie as a fifth grader.

Meredith Laskey finished runner-up in the singles tournament to McCracken County's Michelle McCamey. The Air Force Academy commit has worked on perfecing her different weapons such as serving and putting away forehand shots along with consistency. But she knows the three-day tournament is a grind.

"It is a long tournament. It's not just one match," Meredith Laskey said. "You have to be focused and motivated for every single match you play. You can't look past any opponent. I just play my game and work hard every single point."

Meredith Laskey will be joned by junior teammate Sarah Hoffman. Hoffman lost in the second round of the tournament last year.

"I think each year, everyone wants to do better than they did the previous year," Hoffman said. "Knowing we made it that far last year has helped us a lot. We focus a lot on our own personal games and prevent the opponents from getting in our heads, which really helps us stay in the game. If we're behind, we can catch back up."

The junior doubles tandem of Lexi Herman and Lauren Auteri goes back after having different partners last year. Herman and sister Abby made the doubles semifinals last year and Auteri lost in the second round with Caroline Christian. Herman has won five straight doubles region crowns with three different partners.

On the boys side, junior Ben Emery is playing in the singles tournament. Senior Max Fryberger and sixth grader Peter Laskey are representing Highlands in the doubles. Peter Laskey is the only one of the seven who has not been there before.

"It's nice when you have one that's steady and one that's aggressive," Coash Laskey said. "That's the case with Lexy and Lauren. Lexy is more aggressive and has had more doubles experience. But Lauren can baseline all day long, which is a good compliment to one another. Peter and Max are pretty similar. Max is experienced. Peter is getting his taste in doubles."

Freyberger went with Tylo Mitchell last year. But he said the transition to a new partner has gone well.

"Last year, my partner and I tried powering it out hitting hard because we were two decently big guys," Freyberger said. "We're going for more consistency this year."

Both Highlands teams won the 10th Region crown. They've both been eliminated from team competition by Covington Catholic and Notre Dame respectively in the state quarterfinals.

"We try to hit every day," Coach Laskey said. "Our season closed with a ton of matches so we went into regionals pretty strong with our record. Since regionals, our practices have been shorter. We've been going over every shot. The kids are ready. They've been playing their best tennis going into the postseason."

The matches start at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The boys open at Shillito Park while the girls go to the University of Kentucky. The boys come back to UK on on the second and third days.

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