BOYS' PREP TENNIS: Caven and Parr clinch first-ever title for LaRue (05/18)

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Central Hardin's Thomas tops Blevins in singles final

By Greg Crews



By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN It was far and away the most highly anticipated match of the 5th Region Tennis Tournament, casting a shadow over the other three championship matches that were simultaneously running. But neither the boisterous crowd nor the pressure of the moment could faze LaRue County’s Terry Caven and Dylan Parr. The two were all but unstoppable as they blasted powerful serves, precise volleys and consistent ground strokes on their way to defeating Elizabethtown’s Samad Faheem and Hunter Hazle in the boys’ doubles final and clinching the first-ever team title for the LaRue County Hawks. “It feels awesome, just to come through for your team,” Caven said. “It’s the pinnacle. There’s no better feeling.” The Hawks came into the match with a 12-11 advantage over Elizabethtown, which had won the previous 12 team titles. Had Elizabethtown have won the match, it would have forced a playoff. “Terry and Dylan played with a lot of confidence out there,” LaRue County coach Chris Estes said. “They knew even if they lost we would go to a playoff, but they understood the importance of their match, and how important it was that they win.” LaRue County’s top-seeded duo broke Faheem and Hazle’s serve in the opening game and never trailed in either set as they went on to win, 6-4, 6-2. “Breaking serve that first game got my adrenaline pumping,” Parr said. “I was like, ‘That’s a good start.’” Caven and Parr broke Elizabethtown’s serve four times in all (three times in the second set), while only having theirs broken once. Of the six games that went to deuce, LaRue County won five. “We played really well,” Caven said. “I guess that was our best match of the tournament.” “That was definitely my best match,” Parr chimed in. “My ground strokes were a lot better than they ever have been.” In the singles final, Central Hardin’s Zach Thomas defeated teammate and defending region champion Jacob Blevins, 6-1, 6-2. Thomas becomes the Bruins’ third-ever region champion. “It feels really good. I have been waiting since eighth grade to do this,” Thomas said. “I was the runner-up at conference last year and the runner-up at region. This year I was the runner-up at conference again, so it’s nice to finally win one.” It was the second straight year Thomas had to face Blevins in the final. “It was good to see Zach play up to his capabilities. That was some of the best volleying that I have ever seen him do,” Central Hardin coach Jeff Crady said. “It probably wasn’t (Jacob’s) best match, but a lot of that was due to game planning. Since the two of them play each other so often, they had to try to change up their game plan and I don’t think Jacob really had enough time to refigure his game.” It was a tough road to the title for Thomas, who was seeded third. In the quarterfinals, he defeated the No. 7 seed, Marion County’s William George, 6-2, 6-1. George was considered by many to be one of the best overall athletes in the tournament. Thomas then defeated the tournament’s top seed, LaRue County’s Prince Tantiwong, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, before beating Blevins (seeded second). “It makes it all the better,” Thomas said of his tough tournament run. “If I just went through unseeded players to get to the semifinals, I don’t think I would have been as prepared. And I don’t think it would have been as special.” Elizabethtown and Central Hardin tied for second in the team standings with 11 points apiece, but Elizabethtown won the team runner-up title in a tiebreaker by winning a higher percentage of its total games. The Panthers won 68 percent of their games, while Central Hardin won 67. Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754