LEXINGTON — Olivia Gallagher broke up the Sacred Heart Academy monopoly at the KHSAA girls' tennis state tournament Saturday morning.
Cause for celebration was real, if temporary. Gallagher gave Scott County its first-ever state finalist Saturday morning at UK’s Boone Tennis Center.
The fourth seed’s win in a “super tiebreaker” over second-ranked Ellie Eades, 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (11-9), earned her the coveted shot at familiar nemesis Carrie Beckman.
"It was a tough match, but when the going gets tough, Olivia rises to the occasion," Scott County coach Zan Rexroat said.
One upset didn't lead to another. Beckman successfully defended her title in convincing, 6-1, 6-0 fashion.
Beckman and Eades also are sophomores, and both represented Louisville's Sacred Heart. They kept last year's final to themselves and entered this year's draw as favorites to face off again.
Gallagher couldn't stop Beckman from adding her name to a long legacy of repeat champions. Eighteen different players have gone at least back-to-back since the KHSAA began awarding a girls' title in 1960.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for Gallagher early in the final.
Although Beckman broke serve and then held her own out of the gate, Gallagher survived triple break point to win her second service game.
Beckman banged out four quick games to put away the first set, however, and it was an uphill climb for Gallagher from there.
The result was similar — a 6-1, 6-1 win by Beckman — when the two met in the finals earlier this week at the USTA Joe Creason state qualifier in Louisville. Beckman and Gallagher are two of the top-ranked players in the age group in this part of the country.
"After three tough weeks, winning region, second in the Creason, and state this week, she had nothing left for the final," Rexroat said.
Beckman breezed to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 3 Sophia Shiben of McCracken County in her semifinal.
The first four rounds were a relative cakewalk for both players. Beckman dropped a total of only three games through the first four rounds. Gallagher’s closest match was a 6-2, 6-4 ouster of 11th Region rival Amanda Miller of Lexington Catholic in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
Scott County's hopes of having a team make the final day of doubles for the third consecutive year fizzled late Friday.
The No. 4 tandem of Grace Gardner and Raven Jones won the first set over Henry Clay rivals Kennedy Herring and Gabby Kauffman, 6-3, then led 4-0 in the second chapter before losing in a tiebreaker.
That letdown was too much to overcome in the best-to-10 game for all marbles. The Devils’ duo held Gardner and Jones to three points.
It was a tough third-round draw for the SC pair, which defeated the same team from Henry Clay to win the 11th Region title two weeks earlier.
Gardner reached the semifinals with former partner Lauren Moore in 2017 and 2018.
Matt Halpin of Paul Laurence Dunbar won his second boys' title with a 6-7, 6-1, 1-0 (10-8) rally past Brandon Chou of Trinity.
Ryle's Elizabeth Hamilton and Haliemae Laurino and Trinity’s Justin Lee and Ben Rueff topped doubles.
Trinity boys and Sacred Heart girls won the team titles, based on a point system that factored both singles and doubles results.
SC tied with Lexington Catholic for fourth in the girls' competition behind runner-up North Oldham and third-place McCracken County.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.