• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

Woodford team tennis makes state final four

THE WOODFORD COUNTY TEAM TENNIS program advanced to the state final four Oct. 14 and 15. From left are Claire Pinkston (freshman), Sophie Wingo (sophomore), Alyssa Feldner (senior), Nicole Feldner (sophomore), Mason McIntyre (junior), Evan Spradlin (junior), Ben Ison (junior), Zachary Stiefel (freshman), Evan Bentley (freshman), and Eli Smith (senior). (Photo submitted)

The Woodford County junior team tennis program continues to grow each season and also become more successful in competition. Team tennis has become the flagship program for the United States Tennis Association and Woodford County has jumped on board and is building a nice tennis program through parks and recreation. "One of the great things about junior team tennis tournaments and matches is that winners are determined by who wins the most games and not necessarily who wins the most matches," said Woodford County Parks and Recreations Director Rainey Johns. "By utilizing this format, every single player gets to contribute to the team's total score. Even if they lose a match, if a player can take every one or two games off his or her opponent, that can make the difference in his or her team winning the match. This builds a real sense of team and unity, because everyone can make a difference." Nineteen Woodford County High School kids signed up to play in the Woodford fall junior team tennis league. The team was balanced well with 10 boys and nine girls signing up. Players were divided into two teams, Woodford Black and Woodford Gold. Both teams competed in the "Lexington" league with teams from Henry Clay, LCA, Lafayette, Frankfort, Scott County, Boyle County, and Montgomery County. Both Woodford teams had successful seasons on the court this fall. Teams throughout the state that participated in the junior team tennis format were eligible to compete in the state tournament. The event was held in Louisville on Oct. 14 and 15. Match sites were Kentucky Country Day High School, Mercy Academy and the Louisville Indoor Racquet Club. The entire Woodford Gold team wanted to continue its season and opted to compete in the state tournament. There were 16 teams in the tournament, including Woodford. The teams were divided into pools, with each pool containing four teams. Teams within each pool would play a match against each school within the pool. A match consists of boys' singles, girls' singles, boys' doubles, girls' doubles and mixed doubles. The pool winner was determined by the team that had won the most games within pool play. Woodford was placed into a pool with Boyle County, the Louisville Saints, and Central Hardin. Katrin Wilson was the lone player on the Woodford Black team to choose to play, so she played as a sub on Boyle County's team and had a great showing. In the first match of the state tournament, Woodford played Boyle County on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Mercy Academy. Woodford won four of five courts and won 36 games. The second match was also held on Saturday. Woodford competed against the Louisville Saints at Mercy Academy and won three of five courts and won 30 games. On Sunday Oct. 15, Woodford battled Central Hardin at Kentucky Country Day High School. Woodford won three of five courts and won a total of 30 games. Woodford finished 10 games ahead of Central Hardin after pool play and advanced for the first time as a high school team to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals on Sunday, Woodford competed against Henry Clay at the Louisville Indoor Racquet Club. Woodford won one of five courts and tallied 20 games to Henry Clay's 35. Henry Clay advanced to the finals and won the state tournament. Woodford continues to grow a solid tennis team from the parks and rec "Little Aces" program for younger kids all the way to the high school level. "The really great thing about our programs is that, at all levels, beginner players are welcome and encouraged play," said Johns. "We work with all their skill levels and allow them to develop at their own pace. I like to say that no matter their age, skill or level, there is a place on the team for them. If there are any parents out there who are interested in their kids giving tennis a try, I'd say, and I think our players and parents would say, parks and rec is a great place to get started."

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