The Triway Titans used strong play at singles to fashion an insurmountable lead and went on to capture the championship at the four-team West Holmes Tennis Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 18 at West Holmes High School.
The Lady Titans got wins at first, second and third singles, respectively, from Emily Allison, Allison Kessner and Kelly Starkey.
That was enough to kick-start Triway to 7.5, ahead of runner-up Claymont (5), West Holmes (4.5) and Crestwood (0.5).
At first singles Claymont’s Katherine Host defeated Lady Knight Taylor Miller in a big-time battle that saw Host eventually carve out a thrilling 5-7, 7-6 (7-1), 10-2 win over Miller.
In the other semi bracket, Allison cruised to victory over Crestwood’s Bella Romano 6-0, 6-2.
While Host battled hard in the finals, Allison proved to be too much to handle, and she won handily to claim the championship over Host by a solid 6-2, 6-0 count. In the consolation match for third, Miller continued to play well, carving up Romano 8-0 in a pro set match.
At second singles Kessner dispatched Hailey Wade 6-1, 6-0, and Claymont’s Marissa Anderegg defeated Ashleigh Fowler 6-2, 6-0 to set up a finals match that would go to Kessner in a rout at 6-1, 6-0. In the consolation round for third place, Wade knocked off Fowler 8-3.
At third singles West Holmes’ Monica Nally handled Lexi Stadalsky of Crestwood 6-4, 6-1, and Starkey downed Claymont’s Allison Luyster 6-2, 6-0, setting the stage for Triway’s sweep at singles. Nally had beaten Starkey earlier in the week, but the Lady Titan would get her revenge, earning a 6-4, 6-4 victory to send Nally to her first loss of the season. In the consolation battle, Stadalsky defeated Luyster 8-3.
In first doubles Claymont’s Caylan Rentsch and Lydia Cochran got the best of Triway’s Mattie Carr and Sierra Kiner 6-1, 7-5 while Lady Knights Karley Halloran and Maggie Taylor handled Crestwood’s Camille Gibler and Allison Downs 6-2, 6-2.
In the fight for third Carr and Kiner defeated Gibler and Downs 8-1, and in the championship round, Halloran and Taylor earned West Holmes’ lone victory, a thrilling 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 victory over Rentsch and Cochran.
Finally, at second doubles Brooklyn Poland and Rylee O’Donahue of Claymont defeated Natalie Strouse and Taylor Brooks of West Holmes 6-1, 6-2 while Triway’s Kirsten McAllister and Haley Hochstetler topped Crestwood’s Abby Strahan and Sierra Kauffold handily 6-1, 6-0.
In the bought for third Strouse and Brooks defeated Strahan and Kauffold 8-0 while the championship title went to Poland and O’Donahue, who topped McAllister and Hochstetler 8-5.
For the Lady Knights, who returned a strong team of six varsity players from last season’s squad, the day went pretty much according to what head coach Jason Otto envisioned, although he felt Nally had every shot at winning a title at third singles.
“This has always been really good competition for us, and we always kind of look at this as a way to help us prepare for sectionals,” Otto said.
The Lady Knights had plenty to be thrilled with in the invite, as did Triway, which looked really dominant at first and second singles in particular. Otto said competing with Allison and Kessner in particular is a tall task for anyone because both display number-one player capabilities. Kessner actually played at first singles last season until Allison bumped her down a notch this year. That is the talent the Titans bring to the table in singles.
Still, while Otto doesn’t have a big number one, he does have some solid players top to bottom.
“We don’t have anyone who is just going to go out and dominate, but we were able to get a lot of newcomers some experience last year, so we do have a decent amount of talent and experience pretty much across the board,” Otto said. “I think we are probably pretty set in how we go into each match, although I may try to get Taylor and Haley some play at doubles because they might play doubles in sectionals. I think Monica is going to be a very strong player at third singles all season for us. She played two for us last year, but the competition has been good between our top-three players, and I think that will help us.”
West Holmes is coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Titans and a huge win over Cambridge, and Otto said both of those matches against very good opponents is quite encouraging.
“We basically went into the match with Triway down 0-2 because their first and second singles are so good,” Otto said. “For us to take them to the brink is a great thing. It really came down to a tie-breaker at second doubles, so that was big for us. You don’t like to lose, but that was still a good loss, and beating Cambridge was huge because they were really solid.”