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Family ties highlight First Region tennis tournament's second round

By James D. Horne jhorne@paducahsun.com

The second day of the First Region Tennis Tournament, held Saturday morning at the Larry J. Heflin Tennis Center, was as much about family as it was tennis.

The tournament will continue on Monday at 3:45 p.m. at LJHTC with quarterfinal singles and doubles action. The semifinals are set for Tuesday and the finals will be held on Wednesday. Play will start at 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the girls side in singles play, five of the top six seeds moved on in straight sets, led by top-seeded Michelle McKamey of McCracken County, No. 2  Taylor Sprouse of McCracken County, No. 4 Emily Whitnell of Graves County and No. 6 Molly Shannon of Paducah Tilghman. In the only matchup featuring seeded players, No. 3 Emily West of Paducah Tilghman beat No. 5 Carson Brown of Community Christian, 6-0, 6-1.

Boys singles action saw all top five seeds advance in straight sets: No. 1 Tommy Hagan of McCracken County, No. 2 Logan McKinney of McCracken County, No. 3 Wes Averill of St. Mary, No. 4 Caleb Jones of Community Christian and No. 5 Parker Rowton of Paducah Tilghman.

"There's a lot of expectation for the team, but the kids have handled it well," said McCracken County coach Larry Heflin. "We have set our goals very high and we're very deep on both teams. So we hope to make a long road out of the postseason."

The first five seeds in girls doubles, McCracken County's Madelyn Kauffman and Mckenna Garneau, McCracken County's Mesa Trimm and Makensie Ellerman, Tilghman's Madelyn Chambers and Lara Shannon, Tilghman's Grace Cappock and Anne Lasher and St. Mary's Hannah Hunt and Olivia Petter, all advanced.

As did the top seeds in boys doubles, McCracken County's Mat Townsen and Grant Hammons, McCracken County's Landon Davis and Vincent Shiben, Mayfield's Dane Coles and Jake Guhy, St. Mary's Andre Muniz and Ben Smith  and CCA's Tanner Schroeder and Hunter Rommelman.

"I'm really proud of all my (players) who advanced," Paducah Tilghman coach Jeff Leeper said. "Our boys have a really tough draw, and one of my boys doubles teams lost to the top-seeded team here from McCracken County. But all the girls came through victorious and we can't wait for Monday to see what happens."

For Averill and Guhy, both seniors, the First Region Tournament is the beginning of the end of heavy family involvement in their athletic careers and at their respective high schools.

Averill will be the last of his family to don Vikings' Blue and Gold. His parents, former St. Mary girls basketball coach, Staci, and former St. Mary golf coach Kurt, both retired on March 13 and Wes realizes he's at the cusp of an end of an era.

"There will be no more Averills at St. Mary; that's weird to think out," said Wes, who also golfed and played basketball for the Vikings and whose brother Blake and sister Danielle also competed athletically for the Vikings in three sports. "We've been there for a while. That's why I want to go out strong."

Guhy, who quarterbacked the Cardinals' state championship football team, like his brother Luke did before, just ended one phase of being coached by a parent when the basketball season ended and so did his career with his dad and Mayfield boys basketball coach, Chris.

Guhy is now in the final days on the tennis team with mother, Mitzi, who is in her second year of coaching Cardinals tennis

"It's just really exciting," Jake said. "A lot of people don't get the opportunity to be able to be coached by let alone one parent, but both of them. It's just been fun. It's a good end to the senior year. We're just out here having fun and trying to make a run at this thing. We're just enjoying it as it happens."

Mitzi has enjoyed the entire experience.

"It's been fun," she said. "I was a mom on the sidelines for a long time and then took over as tennis coach two years ago. It's really been a joy. I'd been jealous of Chris for so many years, because he got that relationship. So that has really been a lot of fun."

But  Jake Guhy has one more relationship that will end once the tennis tournaments are over and that's his partnership with  Coles, who's also a senior.

Coles and Guhy have played as doubles partners since the eighth grade.

"In the eighth grade we just got the idea to come out for the varsity and give it a shot," Jake said. "The first year, we played for fun. But as we got more serious, we kept playing more and more and it was great as we built a partnership."

Coles said the past five years have been a blast.

"We're friends on and off the court," Coles said. "We hang out and do the same stuff. We see each other every day in school and it's just been fun out here playing with one of my best friends."

And as the third-seeded doubles team, Coles feels he and Jake could break through and represent the region. But they know it's going to be tough.

"We want to get to the semis and play the second-seeded team from McCracken County and think we have a good shot," Coles said. "We're going to try our best to get to and win the championship. We really have a good shot."

Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.

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