Boyle girls win third straight regional title
Published 12:02 pm Saturday, May 27, 2023
By MIKE MARSEE
Maggie Cerqueira and Edie Clark have been playing tennis together long enough to know their strengths — and their weaknesses.
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The strengths far outnumber the weaknesses, enough to allow the Boyle County seniors to win their second consecutive regional doubles championship.
Cerqueira and Clark rolled through the girls doubles draw at the 12th Region Tournament, and in so doing they led the Boyle girls to a third consecutive regional team title Monday at Millennium Park.
The top-seeded Boyle seniors, who were appearing in the doubles final for the third straight year, finished their regional run with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seeds Karis Cundiff and Gracie Demrow of Casey County.
“They’ve been playing together for a long time, highly competitive matches,” Boyle coach Tao Costello said. “Since middle school they’ve just kind of gravitated toward each other.”
Clark and Cerqueira were doubles partners in middle school, and they stayed together through a freshman season that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the three seasons since that have brought them two titles and a regional runner-up finish.
“Definitely all our hard work and sticking through it paid off,” Clark said.
Cerqueria said her personality meshes well with Clark’s on the court.
“I think we complement each other,” she said. “I can be very hard on myself and Edie lifts me up, and I think that’s huge to have a partner that can build you back up during a match and support you.”
“We know what to say to each other when we get upset. We’ve just gotten to know each other really well through this,” Clark added.
And they know what worked well for them in a tournament in which they won 49 of 67 games over four matches.
“We played aggressive,” Clark said. “Sometimes we back off and try to just be safe, but I think the winning strategy is to play aggressive and to just go win as many points as you possibly can.”
All four singles and doubles entries made it at least as far as the quarterfinals, allowing the Boyle girls to clinch the team title before Monday’s finals.
The Casey County boys also had a title locked up after placing both a singles player and a doubles team in the finals.
Casey won its third consecutive boys team title, and Gunner Floyd and Ethan Willoughby won their third straight boys doubles title.
The Boyle girls won the first of what they hope will be many championships on their new home courts, which opened just in time for the regional tourney. The regional matches are the only high school matches the team’s four seniors will ever play on those courts.
Boyle’s girls have gone 60-5 in regular-season matches over the past three seasons, and they have played tough schedules to prepare for the postseason.
Cerqueira said the string of regional titles is not only a reward for their hard work but also for Costello’s efforts.
“He’s done a really good job of building our team up from the young ones to the old ones,” she said. “I think it’s been great that he’s built this program and gotten it to flourish, and I think we’re pretty set for a few years to come.”
Clark and Cerqueira will be joined at the state tournament once again by teammate Jaina Burkett, a senior who qualified by reaching the singles semifinals for the third straight year.
Malory Watkins of Garrard County defeated Burkett in the semifinals before losing in the finals. Sara Dunn of Mercer County also earned a state berth by reaching the semifinals.
On the boys side, top doubles seeds Floyd and Willoughby dominated their draw, winning 48 of 61 games and defeating a Wayne County duo 6-3, 6-0 in the finals.
No. 1 seed Skyler Lee reached the singles final and Colton Ralston of Lincoln County reached the semifinals, becoming the first Lincoln player to qualify for the state tournament since his coach, Colin Hart, in 2014.
Nate Goode and Owen Willoughby of Casey also qualified for state by reaching the doubles semifinals.
The Boyle and Danville boys tied for third place in their team competition; the Casey girls finished second and the Mercer girls tied for third place.