Friday, May 29, 2015

SAINT XAVIER WINS SEVENTH STRAIGHT KENTUCKY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Saint Xavier extended its domination of the Kentucky Boys Tennis State Championships by winning their seventh straight title, and 24th in school history. It is not the first time the Tigers have clinched 7 titles in a row, they enjoyed a similar winning streak between 1996 and 2002. St. X overpowered Covington Catholic 3-0 to capture the team state title on Friday, and went on to capture more medals in Saturday’s individual events.

The Tigers lost six of their top ten players from last season, but didn’t feel their absence. According to the coach Kerry Lancaster, having more competitive matches under their belt throughout the year than the opposition is the main reason for the prolonged success. Among them, a six-place finish at the 2015 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships Boys A Division.

“It may sound cliché, but we outwork everybody,” Lancaster said. “We practice more than anybody. They play more throughout the winter and the summer. We play a lot. We’re more like a college team the way we travel and the teams we play. They are used to playing in this environment.”

To capture the team state title it was the duo of Matt Graft and Kameron Akrami who cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No.1 doubles match to put the Tigers ahead. Drew Singerman extended St. Xavier’s lead with a comfortable 6-1, 6-1 win at No.2 singles, leaving Spencer Blanford the honor to securing the title in his first state championship match as a Tiger. The sophomore handled the pressure well with a 6-2, 6-1 victory at No. 3 singles to seal the victory.

“This is my first time playing; I just missed it last year by two people,” Blanford said. “It was a lot of fun. I just couldn’t let it get to me. I just had to stay focused and block everything out.”

The Tigers’ triumph inspired Brandon Lancaster to defend his state singles title next day. The St. Xavier High School senior defeated teammate Drew Singerman 6-2, 6-2 to win the Kentucky Singles State Championship. Since losing to Austin Hussey in the state finals of his sophomore season, Lancaster became impossible to beat. The University of Louisville signee didn’t lose a set and dropped just 13 games on route to the state title. Nonetheless, he still had memories of that heart-breaking final loss.

“I couldn’t drive the ball through the court to beat Austin because he’s so good defensively,” Lancaster said. “I was pretty offensive then, but I’m even more offensive now. That’s what I’ve been working on the past couple of years – a bigger serve, a bigger forehand, finishing at the net. That’s what helped me win these two.”

In the doubles final, the Tigers’ top-seeded team of Matt Graft and Kamron Akrami had to settle for second place after losing a gut wrenching three-setter 4-6, 7-6, 8-10 to McCracken County’s Tommy Hagan and Logan McKinney.

This minor blip didn’t affect Kerry Lancaster’s mood. The St. Xavier coach had another reason to be happy after his son Brandon claimed the singles title. However, he was also relieved to see his kid move on to college and stop joking around with teammate Singerman.

“They absolutely drive me nuts in the car and the hotel,” Kerry Lancaster said. “They just act like children around each other and have so much fun with each other and pick on each other. They mostly just double-team the rest of our team.”

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