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Lady Knights look strong at own invite

West Holmes tennis coach Jason Otto felt that with three quality, veteran presences bound for big things in his three singles spot this season, it would be the less experienced players at first and second doubles that would be the telling tale of this year’s Lady Knights tennis program.

On Saturday, August 20 on West Holmes’ brand new tennis courts, those doubles tandems showed Otto that they too can win, and win big.

The first doubles team of Samara Gallion and Dorita Phillips and the number two doubles tandem of Sarah Tennefoss and Ally Taylor swept to victory as part of the Lady Knights dominant victory at their own West Holmes Invite.

Squaring off against Triway and Crestwood, the West Holmes doubles teams found great success in sweeping doubles play with a perfect 4-0 record.

They joined teammates Sabryb Cutlip, who won the second singles title, and Kate Rodhe, who easily crushed the competition at third singles, as Lady Knights champions.

The lone competitor to ruin a West Holmes sweep was Triway sophomore Allison Kessner.

Kessner and West Holmes senior Erin Stitzlein met in first singles play and went toe-to-toe in a match that was even from start to finish.

Stitzlein took the opening set 6-3, then Kessner came right back to capture the second set 6-4, setting the stage for a super tie-breaker to 10, win by two. There, Kessner was able to outlast Stitzlein 10-8, seeking a bit of revenge from one night earlier wen Stitzlein had defeated her rather easily in helping the Lady Knights sweep past Triway 5-0.

Both Stitzlein and Kessner won easily in their respective matches with Crestwood.

Meanwhile, Cutlip faced a fired-up Anna Chittendon in the finals, with Chittendon seeking a bit of revenge from a drubbing one night earlier.

Cutlip dominated the first set 6-2, then Chittendon came storming back to claim the second set 6-2, setting up a tie-breaker to 10 that provided the most drama in the entire tournament.

Chittendon stormed out to a 9-4 lead, and seemed poised on grabbing a title, but the last point is often the toughest one to get. Cutlip used every ounce of her veteran presence to march back into contention, scoring five straight to tie the match at 9-9. She then garnered the final two points to claim the championship with the 11-9 win in the tie-breaker.

“That last point can be tough to get, but I give Sabryn a ton of credit for hanging in there and not giving up,” said Otto. “That was a pretty amazing comeback win for her.”

Neither player had any problem disposing of Crestwood’s number two player.

There was no such drama at third singles, where talented Lady Knights senior Kate Rodhe gave up just one game in her two matches in winning 6-0, 6-0 versus Crestwood and 6-0, 6-1 over Triway.

“We are so solid in singles, and our talent and depth will mean a lot of lopsided victories for whoever is playing third singles,” said Otto. “Kate happened to be there today, and she dominated like we felt she should have.”

As for the Lady Knights doubles play, Gallion and Phillips won 6-0, 6-0 versus Crestwood then took down Triway 6-4, 6-2.

Meanwhile at second doubles, Tennefoss and Taylor dominated Crestwood 6-1, 6-0 after disposing of Triway 7-5, 6-2.

“Coming in I felt that we would handle singles pretty easily, and we would struggle at doubles, but it turned out to be the exact opposite,” said Otto. “Our doubles teams played great tennis, and both Erin and Sabryn had extremely hard-fought matches.”

West Holmes now has a 3-0 record and an invitational title to its name, and will look to continue it success as week two of the season ushers in more competition that Otto hopes will prepare his group for the rigors of Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

As for the Titans, head coach Andy Redd said he looks forward to seeing his young squad improve each night out.

“We are young but we have some talent here that we believe will get better and better as we go along,” said Redd.

If his top Titans battle as hard as they did on this day, and they show the continued improvement they experienced from the Friday night head-to-head with West Holmes to the Saturday invitational, they should be able to make their mark in OCC play.

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