GRC well represented in KHSAA tennis tournament

By Keith Taylor

Sun Senior Correspondent

It has been a few years since George Rogers Clark has had more than one player advance to the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament.

Caitlin Bradley has coached the squad for the past three years and has found growing success with the program.

“It has been a surreal experience,” Bradley said. “The goal is always to advance as far as we can but the success we have seen this year has been incredible. These kids work really hard and deserve all the accolades that they are receiving.”

The three-day event began Thursday and concludes Saturday at the Tennis Club of Lexington and the University of Kentucky Boone-Downing Tennis Complex.

Bradley played tennis for four years at Clark and is now coaching younger brother Isaac Graham.

“I love having him on the team,” she said. “It is extra sweet getting to practice with him everyday and watching him achieve such success along the way.”

Isaac added that having his sister on the sidelines.

“It is very comforting to know she is there to support me no matter what the outcome,” he said.

Graham competed in the doubles competition with Maxwell Clark against the No. 5 seed from Henry Clay. The match began at 10:30 a.m. at the Boone-Downing Complex.

“It is very exciting to have the opportunity to compete with the best tennis players in the state,” Graham said.

“I am most excited to play on a level that I have never gotten to play,” Clark said.

“I think that getting the chance to play further up than before creates a new opportunity for growth in my own game.”

Father-daughter combo

Junior Hayden Turley also is looking forward to the tournament. She was scheduled to play Belle Engelbright at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

“Making it to state gives me a great opportunity,” she said. “It gives me a chance to get my feet wet and hopefully return next year.”

Turley is also coached by her father, Steve Turley.

“It is really cool to have time with my dad,” she said. “I get to see him all the time but it has been great sharing another aspect of my life with him.”

Tennyson Prater finished as runner-up in the regional but recently suffered a knee injury and is unable to compete this weekend.

“It has been a blessing to be a part of such a supportive team,” he said. “Making it to state was very unexpected. I am disappointed that I won’t be able to play but I will be there to cheer on my teammates and hopefully be able to compete again next year.”

Senior Luke Martin has also had a huge impact on and off the court as a team leader.

“I am so proud of them and look forward to watching them improve even more next year,” he said. “Hopefully they will have even greater success playing on the new tennis courts at the high school.”

No matter the outcome this week, Bradley and Turley have enjoyed coaching the team this season.

“I can’t even describe how awesome it has been for Steve and I to coach tennis this year,” she said. “It has been a joy spending time with these kids and watching them excel on and off the court. In the last three years, we have seen such growth in the tennis program. We are excited to see new athletes find a love for the game and become part of our tennis family.”

Schedule

Thursday

8 a.m.

Girls’ competition

at Top Seed Tennis Club

Boys’ competition

at UK Boone/Downing

Tennis Complex

Friday

8 a.m.

Boys’ and Girls’ competition

at UK Boone/Downing Tennis Complex

Singles and doubles

Saturday

9 a.m.

Boys’ and Girls’ competition

at UK Boone/Downing Tennis

Complex

Boys’ and Girls’ doubles

semifinals (4 courts)

Boys’ and Girls’ singles

semifinals (4 courts)

11 a.m.

USTA and KYHSTCA

award presentations

Noon

B/G Doubles finals

2 p.m.

B/G Singles finals