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GIRLS' PREP TENNIS: More "Snow" in the State forecast (05/17)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

LEXINGTON — When she finally got to take the court for the first time Thursday during the opening day of the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament at the University of Kentucky, Elizabethtown senior doubles player Mary-Chapin Snow had time to almost finish a 272-page book.

Maybe that book — Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, which Snow actually called a quick read — seemed long, but then again, so was her wait.

More than six hours after their scheduled start, Snow and younger sister Mackenzie took the court and rolled to a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win over the South Oldham duo of freshman Josie Olliges and senior Anna Townsend.

“It was a great day and I got more than one thing accomplished,” Mary-Chapin Snow said. “And I’m just so glad everyone in E’town is going to get to know how big of a nerd I am now.”

The long-awaited — and many times delayed — win capped off a dominating first round for the Lady Panthers, who went 4-for-4 in their openers.

“It certainly made for a long day for everybody, but they were able to put it together,” said Lady Panthers coach Karen Henson. “We had a good draw, but we were still able to come out and take care of business. It showed the work we put in all season paid off.”

After having a long wait to play in Round 1, the Snows had a far shorter break before playing Round 2. They came off the court at 7:05 p.m. after the South Oldham match, but began their second-round match against the Casey County duo of sophomore Madison Lee and senior Allie Tinsley at 9:03.

The short break didn’t matter as the Snows won, 6-2, 6-2.

“I’m tired and sweaty and it’s so humid in here, so I’m worn out. I’m ready to go take a shower and go to bed,” Mackenzie Snow said. “I guess I’d say it was worth the wait in the end, but am I sore from sitting in those bleachers all day.”

The Snows were the only area entry of either gender to advance to today’s Sweet 16. They play the second-seeded Covington Notre Dame senior duo of Laura Irons and Catriona Shaughnessy at 9:15 this morning.

Elizabethtown seniors Lexy Hazle and Lauren Riney won their first eight games in a 6-0, 6-3 win over the Metcalfe County tandem of eighth-grader Lindsey Compton and sophomore Molly Matnoy. The match started outside before finishing indoors after a lengthy delay.

“It was really fun and it brought back a lot of memories coming back up here,” said Hazle, who played at State for the fourth time in a six-year span with four partners. “I hadn’t been up here in a couple of years, but I thought we came out and played well today.”

After playing their opening match at Kentucky, Riney and Hazle headed to Richmond to play at Eastern Kentucky University, where they lost to Lexington Christian’s fifth-seeded sophomore tandem of Katie Eden and Hannah Sither, 6-0, 6-3. Hazle and Riney were up 3-0 in the second set.

“I wish we could have gotten two (wins), but it was still exciting to come to State,” said Riney, who finished her career 2-0 in the first round after winning last year with former partner Sydney Davis.

In her debut as a seeded entry, ninth-seeded Elizabethtown junior Natalie Fiepke cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Middlesboro senior Taylor Moyers.

Fiepke said she improved as the match wore on.

“I came out a little slow with my backhand and serve,” Fiepke said. “I lost focus on my serve some during the first set, but overall I’m happy with how I played. I’m just hoping to play better.”

Fiepke had a much tougher go at it in the second round, losing to Louisville St. Francis seventh-grader Eva Borders, 7-5, 6-4.

“She got everything back and I played stupid,” Fiepke said.

Central Hardin sophomore Riley Keys knew first-hand how dangerous Borders was, losing to her in the first round, 6-1, 6-0.

“She was very consistent and that’s something that I need to work on,” said Keys, who made her State debut. “It was a great experience. I’m glad I made it this far. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to — my nerves got to me. My goal is to be back next year.”

Central Hardin junior Emily Novak dropped a 6-1, 6-4 decision to Paducah Lone Oak freshman Madelyn Kauffman in the first round. Novak was scheduled to play at 8 a.m., but didn’t check in until 7:58.

“I actually walked onto the court like 5 minutes late. I was surprised they didn’t penalize me a game,” Novak said.

Ending the season with two straight losses (region final, State opener) was a disappointing end to a strong season for Novak, who won the conference tournament title and earned the No. 1 seed for the region tournament.

“I plan on making next year completely different,” Novak vowed. “It will be a completely different player out there.”

Elizabethtown sophomore Lauran Berger was the first area girl to take the court and she got things started in her State debut, rolling to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Hancock County sophomore Kaite Bruner.

“I’m very excited to be here and to have won my first match,” Berger said. “It’s good to see the skill level some of these girls bring to the court and even more exciting to play against them.”

Berger’s day came to an end with a 6-0, 6-0 loss to ninth-seeded Lexington Christian sophomore Christian Puckett in the second round.

“She was a very strong hitter and she just put shots away. We had good rallies, but she would kill them before I got the chance to,” Berger said. “It was pretty tough, but I enjoyed playing her. It was a good experience.”

Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com