2019 Kentucky High School Tennis Boys’ Championship Recap and Impressions

Boys Doubles – Trinity and Manual Stage a Classic

Trinity High School and DuPont Manual High School faced off in the 7th Region doubles final with Manual grabbing the advantage.  This result reversed in the state doubles final. Hart Howard and Aidan Sherridan-Rabideau were the top seeds from Manual.  They played wonderful doubles throughout the season.  When they could dictate, they did so, but they also found inventive ways to extend points through excellent teamwork and movement.  Trinity’s Justin Lee and Ben Rueff did an excellent job of serving to spots and knocking off volleys.  Trinity rallied from a set down to take a tough semifinal roughly one-hour before the state finals began.

The top two seeds did not disappoint.  Trinity grabbed an early lead in the first set, but Manual rallied.  Eventually Trinity claimed the first set 7-5.  Manual’s duo regrouped and raced through the second set 6-2.  In the 10 point tiebreak to decide the state title, Trinity moved to a commanding 8-2 lead.  Manual again showing great mental fortitude to level the tiebreak at 8-8.  Trinity, rather than panicking, won the final two points and took the doubles state title 7-5, 2-6, 1-0 (8).  Given that 3 of the 4 finalists were 11th graders and 1 was a 9th grader, it is possible that this clash will get several sequels next season.

Boys Singles – Matt Halpin Reclaims his Crown

Matt Halpin signed with Notre Dame to play tennis.  Heading to South Bend with a second state title would be ideal.  Halpin won the 2017 state singles title as a 10th grade competitor with a heavy serve and heavier forehand.  He beat the 2016 champion along the way.  In 2018, Halpin reached the semifinal round before losing on an indoor court (due to rain) in a match tiebreak featuring a lot of service winners and aces.  Halpin would claim his second state title, but Brandon Chou did not make it easy.  Chou and Halpin played a tense first set in which each young man saw break points evaporate when returning.  In the tiebreak, Chou prevailed 12-10 and stood either one set or one super tiebreak away from upsetting Halpin.

The second set saw Halpin impose his forehand on Chou and also convert break points when Chou was serving at 1-2.  Halpin then claimed an insurance break with Chou serving at 1-4.  Soon it was 6-7, 6-1.  Brandon Chou raised the level of his game from the second set and a tight super tiebreak decided the state title.  Halpin hit two massive serves to push a double mini-break lead to 8-5.  Chou won the next two points while returning to put pressure back on the top seed.  With Chou serving to level the tiebreak, Halpin hit a sideline clipping forehand to give himself two championship points.  Chou saved the first on his serve, but Halpin once again used his heavy serve and dominating forehand to force a backhand error from Chou late in a rally to take the title 6-7 (10), 6-1, 1-0 (8).

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Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky also Dominate Boys Play

Trinity High School broke St. Xavier’s 10-year streak of boys’ state titles.  DuPont Manual finished second in the team standings followed by St. Xavier and Covington Catholic who tied for third.  Trinity, Manual, and St. X are all from Louisville while Covington Catholic is in the Greater Cincinnati Area.  Matt Halpin plays for Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.  Brandon Chou, Justin Lee, and Ben Rueff all play for Trinity High School while Aidan Sherridan-Rabideau and Hart Howard play for DuPont Manual.

*For full disclosure, I am the JV coach for St. Xavier who finished 3rd in the team standings at the 2019 KHSAA boys’ tennis championships.

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