GRC tennis looks to repeat as region champions

Published 9:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

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Many would be hesitant to be outdoors on a cloudy and windy day.

Yet the weather wouldn’t not deter the George Rogers Clark High School tennis teams.

On Wednesday, March 22, the squad, made up of boys and girls, could be seen practicing at the courts just outside the school’s parking lot.

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They were further preparing for what they hope will continue to be a strong season.

“My initial thoughts [are] it’s been a great start to our year,” said senior Tennyson Prater. “I’m really excited to see where this team will go.”

Through the first five matchups of the season, the Cards had a 4-1 record, while the Lady Cards showcased a winning record of 3-2.

Last year’s GRC tennis squads each finished as region champions.

Coach Seth Heinss scheduled the team to face off against many of the top Lexington schools to prepare them for solid competition.

Among schools from Lexington that the team will face this year are Lexington Christian Academy, Tates Creek, Lafayette and Henry Clay.

“We really, really like to have tough competition. Especially as Region Champions last year, there’s more pressure on us to play these tough schools,” Heinss said. “It only makes us better to have some of our top players play Lexington’s top players. It’s [a] really good experience, helps our rankings, and gives them preparation for our region.”

The regional tournament will begin in May.

Before then, each team will have numerous matches – with the bulk of regional competition against Harrison County, Bourbon County, Montgomery County, and more in the latter half of the regular season.

On the court, each team will be represented by several athletes.

While the Lady Cards lose several valuable seniors from last season, they also return top talent.

Last year’s breakout stars – sophomores Madelyn Settles and Cassi Lowe – return in red.

With little tennis experience going into last season, Settles and Lowe – both multi-sport athletes – worked to a #1 ranking as the 10th Region doubles duo and competed at the state competition.

“The way we interact with each other we kind of know what each other is [going to] do,” said Lowe. “That’s probably our best thing.”“I look forward to all the matches because we just have a fun time,” said Settles. “I enjoy that.”

The Cards team has many returning, including senior Tennyson Prater.

As the 10th Region runner-up during the last four seasons, Prater looks to advance further and see the team excel.

“We have more seniors than we did last year, so seeing these guys that have played all four years coming back and ready to play their final season [is] cool,” he said. “The goal for me this year is to win a region title, whether that is in doubles or singles.”

Seniors on this year’s roster include Anna Rogers, Barbara Sheehan, Connor McCraith, Hayden Cecil, Jack Perdue, Mason Boley, Micah Watts, and Raul Rodriguez.

McCraith and Perdue are a strong doubles duo, along with junior Clay Turley and sophomore Gratz McGraith.

Sheehan and sophomore Sydney Ely stand out on the girls’ side as singles competitors, while Rogers can command a strong doubles team.

The team also welcomes six eighth graders, securing confidence that the future of George Rogers Clark tennis is in a good place.

“Everybody really all the way down from one through seven are really strong,”Heinss said.

There is just as much reason for excitement for this season.

“I’ve really seen a lot of improvement on the kids in their skill level,” Heinss said. “My goals for the season are for everybody to improve…I want to get as many players as possible into a state tournament.”