MOUNT WASHINGTON - Bullitt East sophomore Makaela Knight will open play in her first Kentucky State Tennis Tournament on Thursday at the University of Kentucky.
At 9 a.m. that morning, Knight will take the court against Zunilda Lynch, a senior from Onieida Baptist Institute. Neither player is amongst the 16 seeded players in the 64-player field.
A victory in the opening match would probably lead to a match against Anne Marie Lyon of Lexington Christian. She is one of the eight players seeded between 9th and 16th.
BE's Knight headed to state tennis
MOUNT WASHINGTON - A year ago, Bullitt East girls’ tennis coach John Hedberg thought that his number two singles player, Makaela Knight, was a little nervous in her first regional tournament as the number four seed.
This year, with a lot more experience, and the number three seed, Knight admitted that she was still nervous. But this time, the sophomore didn’t let that bother her game. Knight rolled into the semi-finals on Tuesday in Frankfort, earning her first spot in the Kentucky State Tennis Championships this week in Lexington.
Knight got right where she expected to be - in the semi-finals battling defending regional and state champion Lauren Kline of North Oldham. The outcome was about what she expected also, falling 6-0, 6-0.
Still, the goal for the week was to qualify for the state tournament and that is just what she got.
Each of the past two years, Bullitt East standout Tabitha Collins lost in the regional tournament to Kline and advanced to state.
“I just wanted to get to the semi-finals so I could go to state,” Knight said later in the week. “There is no way I could win against her (Kline).”
The good news on that front is that Kline is a senior. The match on Tuesday was the first time Knight had gone up against a player of Kline’s talent.
“I was still nervous,” Knight said of this year’s tournament. “I’m pretty much always nervous.”
Knight just started playing tennis four years ago. This was her third season as a member of the Lady Charger tennis squad. She played doubles as an eighth-grader and then in singles last year.
Tennis is the only sport that Knight plays. She works out twice a week with University of Louisville men’s coach Rex Ecarma and plays in a number of USTA events.
“I play those USTA events in the summer and I play really good girls,” Knight said when asked about facing a player as good as Kline. “But I don’t think I’ve played anybody that plays like her.
“There was nothing I could against her,” the sophomore concluded. “She was just so much better.”
Knight breezed through the early rounds of the Eighth Region Tournament. She opened with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Brooke Clark of Grant County and then blew past Pritia Patel of Carroll County by the same score. In the quarter-finals Knight defeated Katie Howard of Western Hills 6-4, 6-2. That led into the match against Kline.
Bullitt East finished with five points in the tournament to finish in the top half of the field. North Oldham won with 16 points and Franklin County was second with 12 points.
Hedberg's team also got a point in singles from Julia Brambila Smith who won her first-round match 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 before losing to Isabel Andreason of South Oldham 6-0, 6-4. The other team point came from the doubles team of Allison Murphy and Kaylan Ware who won 6-0, 6-1 to open the tournament. They then were knocked out 6-1, 6-4.
Bullitt East’s other doubles team of Molly Turner and Saskia Bruggerman lost 6-4, 6-2 to a team from Carroll County.
Bullitt Central picked up two points in the tourney as both of the doubles teams won first round matches. Joanna Cruise and Marissa Sanders won a thrilling 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) match before going out of the tournament 6-3, 6-3. The sister team of Andrea Reesor and Brooke Reesor beat a team from Grant county 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 before being knocked out by a seeded team from North Oldham 6-0, 6-0.
In singles, both Katie Curry and Meagan Luttrell lost in the first round, Luttrell 6-3, 6-3 to a player from Spencer County while Curry lost to Kamber Heil of Oldham county 6-0, 6-2.
North Bullitt got a team point when the doubles team of Ashley Buchanon and Krissy Burt defeated a spencer County team 7-5, 6-1. That team was then defeated by a Franklin County squad 7-5, 6-1.
In singles, both Kristin Nation and Rosa Sirphokha lost opening round matches to top players. The second doubles team of Shelly Holsclaw and Cassie Newman fell to a team from Frankfort 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
The only Bullitt County boys’ player to advance out of play on Monday was Bullitt East senior Shane Milburn in singles. He defeated Dustin Cook of Trimble County 6-2, 6-1 and then pulled out a tough match against Steve Saligumba of Franklin County, winning 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). On Tuesday, Milburn was knocked out in the quarter-finals 6-0, 6-0 to Andrew Howard of Western Hills.
Bullitt East also got a point from sophomore Matt Phipps who won his opening match 6-1, 6-0 against Josh Kates of Carroll County. He then lost to Jordan Pitts 6-0, 6-0.
In doubles, Bullitt East’s two teams both lost in the first round. Matt Hamilton and Matt Okruch lost 6-0, 6-1 while Christian St. John and Dalton Sego fell to a North Oldham team 6-1, 6-0.
Bullitt Central got one team point as the doubles team of Caleb Craddock and Louis Faust defeated Reese True and Dylan Sletham of Trimble County 6-1, 6-3. The team then lost to Anderson County 6-2, 6-1.
The other doubles team of William Craddock and Michael Edwards lost in the first round to Shelby County 6-2, 6-1. In singles, both Hunter Campbell and Danny Riggs lost their first round matches.
North Bullitt failed to get a victory on Monday, but the top doubles team of sophomores Matt Bloom and T.J. Barr did put up a fight against Jeppe Stig-Nelson and William Reed of South Oldham before falling 7-5, 6-1. Nelson and Reed reached the championship match before losing.
The other North Bullitt entries were Jake Compton and Sam Druin in singles along with the doubles team of Steven Jesse and Zach Campoamor.