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Bardstown will lean on a veteran boys’ team this season, while the Tiger girls are searching for experience, and both squads hope their roads lead to postseason success.
The girls’ unit was hit particularly hard by graduation, as three-time state qualifier Anna Jones, who dominated the local doubles scene, has moved on along with several other key seniors from last year. Coach Bryan Kellem will call upon eighth-grader Selena Spencer to lead the team in the singles division.
“I have set some high goals for myself and my team this season,” Spencer said. “I would love to go undefeated in my competitions, and make it to the state playoffs.
Spencer is 6-0 in her singles matches thus far and encourages her teammates to hold strong and play through any adversity that may arise.
The girls’ squad will also depend upon senior Allie Tucker, who will play in a singles slot as well.
“We have performed really well so far,” Tucker said. “I have lost a couple, but on the flip side, I have won a few, and I expect our doubles to really step it up as this season progresses.”
Tucker says this year holds a lot of promise and even with the youth movement in the singles area, that it will be a team concept that should bind them all together.
“I have a lot of young kids, but they are discovering how fun tennis can be,” Kellem said. “I want them to all have fun, but I also want them to take it to a serious level of competitiveness and that includes both squads.”
Overall, Bardstown has 13 seniors, and Kellem, in his ninth year as the head coach, wants all of his players to succeed.
The boys’ unit will feature a number of returning players, including the senior leadership of the Tigers’ top singles participant, Devin Chaney.
“Our boys group has done well this year,” he said. “I hope we can advance from district play and make it into the regions. But it will take hard work, and some good hand and eye coordination, and we must be able to move quickly on our feet if we want to be successful.”
Bardstown is also joined this year by senior Nicolas DeVillalobos, who is expected to change the dynamics of the team.
“Nic is an exceptional player and I think he will do well for us,” Kellem said. Our boys’ team is going to be exciting to watch. We have a lot of experience with them, and they have a good chemistry already.”
In addition to the loss of Jones and her doubles partner, Riley Smith, the Tiger girls are also absorbing the loss of Hannah Welch, who had a long reign at No. 1 singles. Still, expectations remain high.
“I am looking for us to perform well in the post season,” Kellem said. “It would be great if we could sneak a team or two of doubles and a singles or two into the regions and eventually into the state this year.”