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2008 Stuart Blazer Memorial Junior Tournament

April 11, 2007 05:10 PM

Robbie Krick 10 and under Champ!

Better late than never

By ROCKY STANLEY — The Independent

Ashland Robby Krick was worried about missing his championship match Sunday morning in the Stuart Blazer State Tennis Championships.

Rain on Saturday played havoc with the junior tournament’s schedule, forcing a backlog of matches inside the Ashland Tennis Center.

In Krick’s case, however, his match turned out to be earlier rather than later.

“I thought my match was going to be at 11 (a.m.), but it got changed to 9,’’ said Krick, an 8-year-old from Ashland and the top seed in the six-player Boys 10s division. “I was in a hurry to get down there. I’m lucky they didn’t default me.’’

The match didn’t get off quite on time, but the rush didn’t hamper Krick’s performance. He defeated second-seeded Jacob Nuckolls from Tennessee 6-2, 6-2.

“He was really fast and got a lot of balls back,’’ Krick said. “I thought I was hitting my forehand well. I had pretty good footwork.’’

The Stuart Blazer first-place plaque carried special meaning for Krick, who attributed his success to working five days a week with ATC teaching pros B. J. Lehosit and Chris Meinfelter.

“It’s my first time to win,’’ said Krick, a second-grader at Holy Family. “I always get the consolation trophies. This means a lot.’’

Another Ashland player, 13-year-old Kennedy Womack, is accustomed to success and enjoyed more of it Sunday.

Playing up a division in the Girls 16s, Womack rolled past the Przystawski twins of Prospect, Ky., in the final two rounds Sunday. Both matches were played indoors, before skies cleared during the afternoon to allow for outside play.

Womack, who finished 2007 ranked 65th in the Girls 14s of the tough, nine-state Southern Section, beat second-seeded Elizabeth Przystawski 6-0, 6-0 in a morning semifinal match. Early in the afternoon, Womack defeated top-seeded Emily Przystawski 6-1,

6-2 for the title.

“I’m really excited about it,’’ Womack said. “It’s nice to win in your hometown. It feels good to pull one out for Ashland.’’

Womack has several career wins over the twins. Elizabeth and Emily were ranked 92nd and 144th , respectively, in the Southern 14s at the end of last year, but got the top two seeds in the Stuart Blazer due to higher rankings in the 16s.

“They deserved it,’’ Womack said. “I was pretty happy not to be seeded. It makes you work from the bottom of a tournament and makes you a better player.’’

Womack has her game in high gear this spring after experiencing some setbacks during the fall and winter. She suffered a foot stress fracture, then a concussion after being hit in the head by a tennis ball, followed by a bout with sickness.

“I was out like seven weeks,’’ Womack said. “It set me back a lot. I had to work five times harder.’’

Womack rebounded well and continues to rack up big results. In March, she won 14-under Southern Level 3 titles in Alabama and Louisiana. Womack followed up with a third place in another Southern Section tournament at Huntsville, Ala.

“I think I’m playing my best tennis right now,’’ she said. “Since I started home-schooling this year, I’ve been on the court 4-5 hours a day.’’

Ashland’s Kelsey Hensley placed third in the 16s, while her sister Kierstin finished third in the 10s.

The bulk of the Stuart Blazer competition shifted outdoors after 2 p.m. and area players Nathan Martin and Rich Meade locked up for a hard-hitting final of one-two seeds in the Boys 16s.

Martin, a junior at Lawrence County High School, posted a 6-2, 6-3 victory after the smoke cleared.

“Nathan hits the ball with a lot of power,’’ said Meade, from Ashland. “It’s hard to run his shots down, and he’s fast.’’

The two players often practice together and also travel with each other to tournaments. Martin, undefeated in high school play this season, is ranked about 50th in the Southern Section 16s while Meade was 89th in the 14s for 2007.

"Rich is a good player,’’ Martin said. “We know how each other plays.’’

Meade led 2-1 in each set before Martin gathered momentum both times.

“I could have played better, but Nathan did play well,’’ Meade said.

Ashland’s David Bush, the top seed in the Boys 12s, put in a long day to win his state title.

Bush, a sixth-grader at Rose Hill Christian School, won three matches Sunday and became the last champion to be crowned. He beat No. 4 Gus Benson 6-2, 6-1 in a match that ended after 9:30 p.m. inside the ATC.

Bush outlasted his other two opponents Sunday in tiebreakers, but hardly seemed tired after the whole ordeal.

“I got a lot of rest in between matches, so I feel fine,’’ said Bush, who played some of his best tennis in the final match. “My forehand was very good.’’

Bush, ranked No. 2 in Kentucky in the 12s, defeated friend Will True from western Kentucky in a quarterfinal tiebreaker and then got past third-seeded Liam Friel, another Kentucky player.

In the Boys 14s, Russell’s Chase Bates made a strong run to the finals. He won three matches, including a quarterfinal victory over third-seeded Tanner Queen of Louisa, before falling 6-2, 6-0 to top-seeded Hunter Tubert of Huntington. Tubert, age 11, is ranked in the Top 40 nationally in his age group.

Another Russell player, Mallory Powell, knocked off top-seeded Caroline Walter of Louisville 6-4, 6-4 in the Girls 12 semifinals. Powell came up just short in the championship match, dropping a 10-6 tiebreaker to No. 2 Madeline Rolph of Lexington.

Boyd County High School player Brooke Helms finished third in the Girls 18s, won by Annamarie Herbold from Tennessee.

Stuart Blazer opens Saturday

By ROCKY STANLEY — The Independent

ASHLAND Some of the top young tennis talent from Kentucky and beyond will be on display here over the next three days.

The Stuart Blazer State Championships open Saturday morning at the Ashland Tennis Center and Russell High School courts.

Last year, the annual Stuart Blazer Memorial Tournament became one of Kentucky’s three junior state championships.

Entries increased from 146 to 174 this year, a factor in the tournament changing to a three-day format rather than the traditional 21/2-day schedule that began Friday evening.

ATC manager and tournament referee Jerry Groce said the Stuart Blazer State Championships now follow the Saturday-Monday format used by most Southern Tennis Association events. The Ashland tournament is classified as STA Level 4, which makes it attractive to players for ranking purposes.

“I’m very happy with the number of entries,’’ Groce said. “With the number of courts, we were busting at the seams. Playing Saturday to Monday, it gives you three full days of play.”

Championship matches for some of the smaller draws are scheduled for Sunday, while others are set for Monday.

The Stuart Blazer tournament is one of Kentucky’s oldest junior events. Trophies will be awarded to the top four places and consolation winner in each division.

Several area players enter as top contenders in their age groups. Rachael Bush of Ashland is top-seeded in the Girls 10s. Her brother, David, and Max Meade of Ashland are 2-3 in the Boys 12s.

Nathan Martin of Louisa starts play in the Boys 16s as the No. 2 seed.

The Boys 14s, with 25 entries, shapes up as one of the tournament’s most competitive draws. Zach Lewis of Richmond and William Sparks of Knoxville, Tenn., lead a group of seven seeds. Beyond that is a talented bunch of area players including Chase Bates, Tanner Queen, Evan White, Paul Spradlin, Miles Mussetter and Stephen Metcalf.

A player party is set for Saturday at 1 p.m.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at or (606) 326-2671.