GRC tennis stars return to state tournament

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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In what has been an exciting year for GRC tennis, multiple returnees are headed back to this week’s singles/doubles portion of the 2024 KHSAA State Championships. 

The doubles duo of juniors Madelyn Settles and Cassi Lowe will be returning, as will the doubles duo of senior Clay Turley and junior Hayden Cockrell. 

During the girls’ tennis Round of 64, Settles and Lowe are scheduled to take on Allison Ford and Kennedy Carter from Allen County-Scottsville at Eastern Kentucky University on Tuesday, May 28, at 10:15 a.m. 

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During the boys’ tennis Round of 64, Turley and Cockrell are scheduled to take on William Tribble and Jacob Kramer from Covington Catholic at the University of Kentucky on Tuesday, May 28, at 11:30 a.m. 

While Settles and Lowe three-peated as champions during the recent 10th Region Tournament, Turley and Cockrell finished as regional runner-up one year after Turley, and the since-graduated Tennyson Prater took home a 10th Region Championship.

Their paths to tennis glory were unconventional. 

For Settles and Lowe, discovering the game of tennis happened almost indirectly. 

The lifelong friends, who routinely swam and did other competitions together, decided to play as a hobby. 

Before long, Lowe wanted to join the team, and Settles accompanied her. The two participated and found quick success on the tennis court. 

Lowe and Settles are also multi-sport athletes, with Lowe competing on the defending Lady Cards’ 10th Region Champion soccer team and Settles competing for the three-time defending Lady Cards’ 10th Region Champion basketball team. 

Convincingly, Lowe and Settles – who advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s KHSAA state tournament – defeated Mason County’s Tori Lavender and Bailey Boone in the 10th Region Finals in consecutive sets by scores of 6-1 and 6-0. 

They had convincingly won in several matchups before the Finals, with their closest set being a 6-2 victory against the Mason County tandem of Eden Abshire and Kyndall Sutton.

On the boys’ side, Turley—a leader of the defending 40th District Champion Cards’ soccer team and also the kicker for the school’s football team—was brought on to the tennis team in part because of his leadership and athleticism. 

He quickly acclimated and came to enjoy the sport. 

Last year, he and Prater competed in the state tournament before falling in the opening round. 

With Cockrell, the duo advanced to the finals of the 10th Region Tournament after wins over teams from Bourbon County High School, Mason County High School, and Montgomery County High School. 

The latter matchup saw them win in a tiebreaker during the third set, which overall created a very competitive atmosphere. 

Though they fought bravely, Turley and Cockrell came in second in the 10th Region Final matchup against the Bourbon County High School duo of Case Davis and James Mulcahy. 

Scores were 6-3 in consecutive sets.