Thrice is nice

Scott County girls’ tennis team members, from left, Raven Jones, Olivia Gallagher, Grace Gardner, Megan Moore and coach Zan Rexroat, flash the “three” sign to celebrate their third consecutive 11th Region championship. Gallagher also won her third straight title in singles, while Jones and Gardner clinched the program’s first-ever region title in doubles.

Thursday couldn’t have served up a more perfect conclusion to the 11th Region girls’ tennis tournament for Scott County.

Olivia Gallagher, the Lady Cards’ sophomore ace, stormed past Katie Robeson of Henry Clay, 6-1, 6-4, to claim her third consecutive region championship at Top Seed Club in Nicholasville.

Later in the evening, SC’s top-seeded doubles tandem of Grace Gardner and Raven Jones took home their trophy, as well. Those two rallied from down a set, 4-6, to pull even with Michaela Gatsos and Helena Weiss of Lafayette, 6-3, before a 10-5 win in the tiebreaker.

It was the first-ever region doubles title for Scott County. Gardner had been on the brink with former partner Lauren Moore, earning runner-up laurels each of the past two seasons.

Those results gave Scott County a clean sweep of the week, breaking a tie with Henry Clay to claim the team title in the four-day competition. SC and HC were tied entering the finals.

Gallagher and Gardner/Jones will be among the favorites when the KHSAA state tournament is held at the same site May 30 to June 1.

The victory continued Gallagher’s career-long dominance of the event. She lost only seven total games en route to the final, most of them coming in Tuesday’s 6-1, 7-5 quarterfinal victory over Madison Miller of Lexington Catholic.

Top-seeded Gallagher breezed through Lydia Prince, 6-0, 6-1, in the semifinal Wednesday.

Robeson threatened to get back into the match when she broke Gallagher’s opening service game of the second set. Gallagher returned the favor to break a 3-3 tie, however, and held her own serve twice down the stretch to close it out.

A state quarterfinalist each of the past two years, Gallagher played mostly doubles during this high school season but is clearly primed for a run at some unfinished business.

The same can be said for Gardner, who represented the rugged 11th Region in the state semifinals each of the past two years.

Jones proved a quick study as her new teammate. But even with past champions Amanda and Madison Miller of Lexington Catholic focused on singles this season, the bracket was no less challenging over the final two rounds.

Wednesday’s semifinal saw Gardner and Jones take down Henry Clay’s Kennedy Herring and Isabelle Kaufmann, 6-3, 6-4.

Scott County’s tandem lost only one game through its first two rounds. Gardner and Jones needed a second-set tiebreaker to oust Carolina Hager and Julie Bedard of Sayre in the quarterfinals.

Jones and Gardner dropped only one game through their first two matches.

Weiss and Gatsos used a 10-8 win in a tiebreaker to knock out second-seeded Jaycie Mair and A.K. Shashy of Lexington Catholic in the semis.

Matt Halpin of Paul Laurence Dunbar collected his fourth consecutive boys’ singles championships, topping Tates Creek’s Zach White, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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