DANVILLE - On the championship day of the 12th Region Tennis Tournament, the Somerset High School boys team was well represented with a doubles team and a singles player in the final round. And for the first time in well over a decade, the Briar Jumpers boys team walked away with the 12th Region Boys Tennis team title.
Meanwhile, the Briar Jumpers' doubles team of Eric DeMunbrun and Jonathan Nickell breezed through their 12th Region championship match against Casey County's Gunner Floyd and Ethan Wiloughy. DeMunbrun and Nickell won the title by a score of 6-2, 6-1, and disposed of their opponents in less than an hour, and well ahead of the other three final matches at Bates Middle School tennis facility.
The boys team title was a first for Briar Jumper head coach Jason Ruble, who has been coaching the program for 13 years. Ruble was also named the KHSAA 12th Region Tennis Coach of the Year.
"We have had a lot of great players come through, and that says a lot about our program," Ruble stated. "We have a lot of families in this program, with several sets of brothers and sisters, and older brothers and younger brothers playing. It is sort of of a family thing here at Somerset."
After drawing a bye in the first-round bye of the boys region doubles bracket, Nickell and DeMunbrun downed Pulaski County's Zach Carter and Ethan Carter 6-1, 6-0 in the second round, and defeated the Lincoln County doubles team in the quarterfinals. Nickell and DeMunbrun downed the doubles team from Boyle County in the semifinals.
"They were really focused in, and Jon (Nickell) and Eric (DeMunbrun) have been playing that way all season," Ruble said of his regional championship doubles team. "Those two guys will do whatever we need them to do. They have played singles this season and they have played doubles."
"I met with them at the beginning of the year, and we asked them their goals," Ruble explained. " Amin (Katanbaf) and Jon (Nickell) played doubles in the region finals last year. Jon and Eric wanted play as a doubles team this year and did well, and they have not lost to anyone in the region."
Amin Katanbaf played in the boys singles finals against Wayne County's Zachary Dishman. Katanbaf, who had not lost a singles match all season, fell to Dishman in the finals 6-3, 6-2.
After drawing a bye in the first-round of the boys region singles bracket, Katanbaf advanced to the finals by downing Danville's Jacob Prewitt 6-0,6-0 in the second round, and defeated Mercer County's Bryson Marcum in the quarterfinals. Katanbaf downed Boyle County's Chase Frisby 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals.
"Amin (Katanbaf) wanted to go for the singles this season," Ruble stated. "He came up a little bit short today, but he had not lost to another player in Kentucky all this season."
Pulaski County sophomore Emma Calfee also had a sensational tennis season with only one singles regular-season loss, and setting a school record for most tennis singles wins. Calfee advanced to the region finals for the first time in her high school career, but fell to Mercer County's Rebecca Trent by a score of 6-1, 6-2.
After drawing a first-round bye of the girls region singles bracket, Calfee advanced to the finals by downing Somerset's Olivia Stevens 6-4, 6-1 in the second round, and defeating Lincoln County's Savanna Smith 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Calfee downed West Jessamine's Carlyn McCreary 6-2, 7-6 (2) in the semifinals.
"Emma has put a lot of work into her game, especially in the past few months," stated Pulaski County tennis coach Chris Adkisson. "Besides working on her tennis skills, she has been working on playing smart tennis. We talked about playing smarter matches, and that put her in better opportunities to win all season."
The Somerset girls doubles team of McKenzie Clouse and Devan Neely qualified for the state tournament by advancing to the region semifinals. Clouse and Neely got a first-round bye, and beat Pulaski County's Macey Hudson and Catherine Cook in the second round by a score of 6-2,6-3. Clouse and Neely downed the doubles team from Wayne County in the quarterfinals by a score of 6-3, 6-3, but their region run ended in the semifinals in a loss to the Danville duo of Jenna Akers and Lara Akers.
The Southwestern boys doubles team of Josh Carey and Max Brainard qualified for the state tournament with a region semifinals appearance. Carey and Brainard got a first-round bye, and defeated the West Jessamine doubles team in the second round. Carey and Brainard beat the Danville doubles team 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, but fell to Casey County's Gunner Floyd and Ethan Willoughy in the semifinals.
"I am extremely proud of the way our team performed in the regional tournament," stated Southwestern coach Lauren Childers. "We were able to accomplish some of our preseason goals this year, and I think we can check off even more of those goals next season. With everyone back from this year's team, I'm excited about what the 2020 season could look like for Southwestern tennis."
Pulaski County freshman Jackson Martin qualified for the state tournament in the boys singles by advancing to the semifinals. Martin drew a first-round bye, and then downed Somerset's Aryan Patal 6-1, 6-0 in the second round. Martin downed McCreary Central's Seth Ball 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Martin was eliminated in the region semifinals by Wayne County's Zach Dishman.
In boys singles, Pulaski County's Kasen Cundiff won his first round match over East Jessamine's Parker Dixon by a score of 6-0, 6-1. Somerset's Patel won his first-round match over East Jessamine's Jeffrey Smith by a score of 6-1, 6-0.
In boys doubles, Somerset's Jackson Horn and Matt Satterly advanced to the quarterfinals by downing Wayne County's Hesse and Morrow in the second round by a score of 6-1, 6-3. Pulaski County's Gavin Spradlin and Adam Reynolds won their first-round match over the duo from Lincoln County.
In girls doubles, Pulaski County's Laila Cook and Jamicyn Weaver won their first-round match over Southwestern's Harlee Jordan and Terae Handlos by a score of 6-2, 6-1. Pulaski County's Hudson and Catherine Cook won their first-round match over East Jessamine.
In girls singles, Somerset's Charity Nickell advanced to the quarterfinals by downing Casey County's Alayna Reusser in the first round and Pulaski County's Shaylin Estes in the second round. Estes won her first-round match over Rockcastle County's Kisha Newcomb. Southwestern's Kaitlyn Munsey advanced to the quarterfinals with a first-round win over Wayne County's Macy Weaver by a score of 6-4, 6-1, and a second-round win over East Jessamine's Ashley Graves by a score of 6-4, 6-4.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.