Somerset High School senior tennis standout Devan Neely was hoping to finish out her prep career on a high note. After two straight trips to the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament, Neely didn't get a chance for a third trip to state after the season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
However, Neely was awarded by the Kentucky High School Tennis Coaches Association by being selected to the KYHSTCA Tennis All-State Team. Tennis coaches from around the state voted on the best senior tennis players from each region, and Devan Neely was the top player of the 12th Region.
"I am honored to say that I was selected for the All-State Girls Tennis Team," Neely stated. "Huge thank you to Jason Ruble and Cody Harris for being amazing coaches for the past six years. Thank you to my team for always supporting me."
"I'm sad I didn't get to participate in the state tournament for a third and final year, but I am blessed that I qualified for my sophomore and junior seasons," Neely added. "SHS tennis will always hold a special place in my heart."
Neely made it to state in doubles for the past two years with her previous partner, Kenzie Clouse, by qualifying as semifinalists in the region. In her sophomore year, Neely and Clouse went undefeated in regular season.
Neely had been on the first-seed doubles team for the past three years and the second-seed girl on the Lady Jumpers' team for the past three years. And while Neely was excited to make two straight trips to the Tennis State Tournament, she stated it didn't come easy.
"My favorite match was sophomore year when we beat our opponents in a tie-breaker to make it to the state tournament," Neely recalled.
Somerset High School tennis coach Jason Ruble stated that he was blessed to have Neely on his tennis squad for the past six seasons.
"Devan has played tennis for Somerset High School for six years and over that six years it has been great watching her grow, not only as a tennis player, but as a person," Ruble stated. "Devan was always looking to improve her game. Devan has been a great asset to our program over the years."
"Devan was a great leader on court and off the court," Ruble stated. "She worked hard and was always willing to do what was necessary to help the team. Not only is Devan a great player, she is a great student in the classroom as well."
Ruble was not surprised by Neely's selection to the All-State Tennis Team.
"I am so happy for Devan being selected to KYHSTCA Tennis All-State," Ruble added. "She is very deserving and well respected in our region and state. As a sophomore, Devan finished the regular season undefeated in doubles for the regular season. She finished third in the region and qualified for the state tournament. As a junior last season, she once again finished third in the region in doubles and qualified for the state tournament."
Many felt 2020 would have been Neely's year to compete for a 12th Region Tournament doubles title.
"This year, her senior season, was looking to be her best as a Jumper," Ruble said. "Once again Devan was looking for that 12th Region doubles crown. I truly believe this was going be her year to win the 12th Region Doubles Championship. Devan will be a hard player to replace."
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.