Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 18, 2014

Bush, girls trio lead selections

ASHLAND — From standout seniors to up-and-coming young players and in between, The Independent’s 2014 All-Area Tennis Team has it all.

Rose Hill Christian senior David Bush added to his collection of Boys Player of the Year honors by winning a record fifth consecutive regional singles championship and closing out a stellar high school career with another All-State Tennis Team selection.

Bush, a Liberty University signee, won the 16th Region title without dropping more than three games in a set. Seeded fourth at the State Tournament, Bush advanced to the third round before losing a third-set tiebreaker.   

“It’s been an honor to coach against David and watch him through the years,” said Eddie Sizemore, Ashland’s boys coach and a longtime area teaching pro. “I’m so happy for him to be able to take it to the next level at Liberty.

“Besides being a great tennis player, he’s an even better person. He had an unprecedented run in the regional tournament and has been right at the top of the state, making the All-State team a couple of times.”

In all, Bush reached the boys regional singles final seven years in a row, beginning as a sixth-grader.

Sizemore, who guided Ashland to regional and sectional championships this spring, added about Bush: “Part of me is kind of happy he’s gone.”

Ashland sophomore Lauren Fazenbaker and Russell doubles partners Kierstin Hensley and Maci Ferguson share Player of the Year on the girls’ side. The Independent staff makes POY selections.

“It’s a pretty good honor, pretty awesome,” Fazenbaker said.

Fazenbaker rolled to her first 16th Region singles title after three consecutive runner-up finishes. The left-hander lost only three games in her four regional matches.

“Lauren had a very good year,” Ashland girls coach Jamey Sellars said. “She’s deserving because of the work she puts in. I couldn’t be more proud of her attitude and the way she handles herself on the court. She battles every point.”

Fazenbaker said she has seen the most improvement in her game in the areas of “consistency, hitting harder and moving people around. It’s taken a lot of practice, a lot of hard work.”

Fazenbaker followed up her strong regional performance by making a run to the State Tournament quarterfinals. She knocked off fifth-seeded Neha Rao of South Laurel 6-2, 6-3 in the third round.

“Every year that Lauren’s been to the State Tournament, she’s moved one step closer,” Sellars said. “It shows how she keeps improving. She’s dedicated not only on the tennis court, but with her training. Lauren is doing what she needs to do to take those next steps.”

Russell’s Hensley (sophomore) and Ferguson (eighth-grader) won their second straight regional doubles final and never stopped. They charged through the draw at the State Tournament, capped by a 6-3, 6-3 win over McCracken County’s Makenna Garneau and Madelyn Kauffman.

Hensley and Ferguson became the first area tandem to win a state title in 16 years.

“They are best friends, which I think helps them on the court as well,” Russell girls coach Larra Ferguson said. “It definitely helps them with chemistry.”

The pivotal match for Hensley and Ferguson came in the quarterfinals, when they rebounded to bump the No. 2 seeds from Collegiate 0-6, 6-4, 10-8.

“We had to completely change the game plan after the first set,” Russell’s coach said. “Instead of trying to compete at the net, we decided to hit higher balls and rely more on consistency. It changed the momentum. On the last day, Kierstin and Maci really played well again in back-to-back matches against good, strong teams.”

Fazenbaker, Hensley and Ferguson were honored on the All-State Team.

All-Area Coach of the Year honors went to Sizemore and Greenup County’s Brandi Litteral (girls) in voting by area coaches.

Ashland led the boys team with six selections — all advancing at least to the regional semifinals.

Seniors Alex Newmark and Wesley Daniel never lost a game in the doubles draw. Daniel followed a family tradition. His father, Jim, won the regional singles crown in 1983 while cousins Stephen Metcalf and Daniel Wright were also regional champs.

The Tomcats’ other doubles team — Austin Craft and Will Frye — advanced to the regional semifinals as did singles teammates Robby Berry and Robby Krick.

Newmark, Daniel and Berry made it to the third round of the State Tournament.

Rose Hill Christian, which tied Ashland in points to force a playoff, was next with four All-Area players. Joining Bush were regional doubles runners-up David Stringer and Nathan Reynolds, along with Elijah Daniels.

Russell sophomore Matthew Eastham was regional runner-up in singles.

Lawrence County juniors Cole McCreary and Jake West swept the top two singles spots in the 15th Region as the Bulldogs defended their team title.

Other selections included Jonathan Seagraves and Tanner Sammons of East Carter, along with Bryce Keeton of Raceland.

Section 4 girls runner-up Russell landed four players on the All-Area Team. Doubles teammates Claudia Kendrick and Hunter Nguyen reached the state quarterfinals.

So did Lawrence County senior Ali Dotson and seventh-grader Bailey Thompson, the 15th Region champs. Lawrence County is also represented by regional singles winner Abby Haynes and runner-up Shelby Hay.

Rose Hill Christian’s three selections included Rachael Bush and Madison Lett, the No. 2 finishers in 16th Region doubles, and Myriah Porter. 

Boyd County eighth-grader Jessica Burton finished regional runner-up to Fazenbaker. Two Greenup County players, sophomore Micah Leslie and eighth-grader Madison Hill, were semifinalists. Hill also made it to the third round at state. 

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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