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CovCath duo one win away from becoming region’s first boys doubles team in state finals since 1969

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The last time a Northern Kentucky boys doubles team made it to the finals of the Kentucky state high school tennis tournament was 1969, but a couple of sophomores are one win away from ending that perplexing 54-year streak.

Alex Yeager and Kalei Christensen of Covington Catholic won two matches in straight sets on Wednesday at the Top Seed Tennis Club in Nicholasville to reach the state semifinals in the boys doubles bracket.

CovCath doubles partners Kalei Christensen, left, and Alex Yeager.

They entered the tournament as the top seeds so they’re expected to beat Ethan Paek and Aryan Arusam of Louisville Manual in a semifinal match at 10 a.m. Thursday and advance to the final.

Yeager and Christensen have been doubles partners in U.S. Tennis Association youth tournaments for several years. In the eighth grade, they earned a berth in the state high school tournament as a doubles team for Holy Cross.

Last year, they played in the state tournament with different CovCath doubles partners and Yeager lost in the state semifinals with his teammate.

Christensen and Yeager were reunited this season and won their first 9th Region doubles championship together to earn the No. 1 seed for the state tournament.

The last Northern Kentucky boys doubles team to reach the state final was Rick Rothfuss and Robbie Thomas of Bellevue in 1969. The last state champions from this area were Tom Qualey and Roger Otten of Bellevue in 1949.

Brady Hussey

CovCath junior Brady Hussey and Covington Latin senior Sara Watanabe have semifinal matches in boys and girls singles scheduled for 8 a.m. on Thursday. Nine years ago, Northern Kentucky had players in both singles finals, but no one from this area has played in a singles title match since then.

Watanabe, a state semifinalist the last two years, is the No. 1 seed and will face No. 3-seed Lilah Jane Shallcross of Sacred Heart in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. Shallcross won last year’s match in a third-set tiebreaker.

In the boys semifinals, it will be No. 2-seed Hussey vs. No. 3 seed Landon Ecarma of Whitefield Academy. Hussey also lost in the state semifinals last year.

The last local singles player to reach the boys state final was Hussey’s older brother, Austin, in 2014. Meredith Laskey of Highlands was in the girls singles final that same year.

State high school tennis tournament

Boys singles — Brady Hussey (CovCath) vs. Landon Ecarma (Whitefield Academy), 8 a.m.
Girls singles — Sara Watanabe (Covington Latin) vs. Lilah Jane Shallcross (Sacred Heart), 8 a.m.
Boys doubles — Alex Yeager-Kalei Christensen (CovCath) vs. Ethan Paek-Aryan Arusam (Manual), 10 a.m.

Boys singles — Brady Hussey (CovCath) def. Alex Englund (Manual), 7-6, 6-3.
Girls singles — Sara Watanabe (Covington Latin) def. Anna Du (Henry Clay), 6-3, 6-1; Julie Adele Bedard (Ky. Country Day) def. Tampanee Boonyawat (Dixie Heights), 3-6, 7-5, 10-5.
Boys doubles — Alex Yeager-Kalei Christensen (CovCath)  def. Zachary Thompson-Charlie Mooney (Lafayette), 7-6, 6-2; Dylan Dethridge-Gary Zheng (Greenwood) def. Shayaan Ahmad-Joey Case (Villa Madonna), 6-1, 6-1.
Girls doubles — Willow Renton-Reagen Mangan (North Oldham) def. Taylor Meenach-Hailey Fullenkamp (Notre Dame), 6-0, 6-1.

Boys singles — Brady Hussey (CovCath) def. Tyler Fox (Lexington Sayre), 6-0, 6-1.
Girls singles — Sara Watanabe (Covington Latin) def. Arden Dethridge (Greenwood), 6-3, 6-2; Tapanee Boonyawat (Dixie Heights) def. Molly Nutt (Mayfield), 6-1, 6-1.
Boys doubles — Alex Yeager-Kalei Christensen (CovCath) def. Kian Rosenau-Nikan Rosenau (Dunbar), 6-3, 6-3.; Mason Baldwin-Landon Hagan (Elizabethtown) def. Eli Back-John Laskey (Highlands), 6-3, 6-1; Shayaan Ahmad-Joey Case (Villa Madonna) def. Connor McIntosh-Wyatt Crabtree (McCracken County), 7-6, 6-2;
Girls doubles — Taylor Meenach-Hailey Fullenkamp (Notre Dame) def. Abigail McClellan-Addison Littlefield (Louisville Assumption), 7-5, 6-2.


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