Ellie Gerlach (11th) and Grace Jennings (9th) were great representatives of our school and the best that CAL athletics has to offer at the State tournament in Lexington last weekend.
Ellie (4th seed) was a finalist in a very high pressure situation against Madeline Rolph (3rd seed). Both girls are fiercely competitive, both are ranked in the state, and both have met previously in high pressure USTA tournaments. Ellie won 5 matches enroute to the final, including a hard fought semifinal match against Michelle McKamey which was completed only 3 hours prior to her final match. Both of these were played indoors due to rain, which ratchets up the intensity level even more due to noise from the crowd cheering for players on multiple courts. Ellie kept her cool and fought valiantly. Unfortunately she began to suffer from cramps in her hands and legs towards the end of the first set. The final score was 6-4, 6-2. On another day with fresh legs, I’m confident Ellie would prevail against the same opponent. She is a determined young lady and will remain one of the top ranked players in the state for her final year of high school.
Grace played what many observers felt was the most exciting match of the tournament in the round of 16 against Abbie Mather. Abbie had defeated Grace in the regional semifinals and was the runner up in region 7 (losing to Ellie in the final). Grace began the match somewhat tentatively and fell behind 4-1, but fought back to a 6-6 tie and lost in a close tiebreaker. In the second set, down 6-5, she continued to play hard, attacking the ball at every opportunity. Abbie began to falter and the hard work of the two sets began to take their toll. Abbie asked for a medical time out after Grace saved a match point with a huge swing volley. The time out expired and Abbie was still having difficulty breathing, but wanted to try to play out the match (she only needed two points to win). Grace won the next two points and the score was tied 6-6. At this point, Abbie had to withdraw and Grace (and Ellie) both comforted Abbie on the bench and spent time embracing and encouraging their good friend. It was a very touching and sweet ending to a hard fought match. Grace advanced to the quarterfinals where she lost in a very close, very heated match with Rolph (the eventual champion).Grace kept her cool under pressure and played a great match losing in a 10 point tiebreaker after splitting sets.
Click Here to see all of the brackets and final scores for the tournament