Bischoff, Smith add to Boyle girls’ string of regional doubles titles

Published 10:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Boyle County girls’ third consecutive regional doubles title was won by two new girls who took one significant step forward.

Less than a month after they were paired together, Hannah Bischoff and Maya Smith won the girls doubles championship at the 12th Region Tournament.

They completed an unlikely run to the final line of their bracket Monday with a 4-6, 6-1, (10-6) victory over Hayden Webb and Rae Sobieck of Somerset Christian in the finals at Millennium Park.

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The two juniors followed in the footsteps of Maggie Cerqueira and Edie Clark, who won back-to-back doubles titles for Boyle before graduating last year, and Smith said it was significant to keep that streak intact.

“It’s really special because … we got to keep the streak alive of the girls doubles victories and we get to play again together next season,” Smith said.

Smith and Bischoff had played only “two or three” matches together prior to the postseason but were seeded fourth for the regional. Yet even after they advanced to the finals, they said they weren’t sure what to expect.

“Coming in we were just kind of like, ‘Oh, you know, if we lose we lose, if we win we win.’ But we didn’t really set an expectation for ourselves because we knew that the other team we were playing was really good,” Bischoff said.

The Boyle girls weren’t the only local doubles team to pull off a regional surprise. Xavier Paver and Toby Sallee of Lincoln County, who were seeded eighth in the boys bracket, knocked off the No. 1 seeds from Casey County on their way to the finals before falling to a team from Pulaski County.

Sara Dunn of Mercer County and Skyler Lee of Casey won the two singles championships, each reaching the top of the region for the first time in their final season.

Boyle was denied in its bid to win a fourth straight girls team title later in the week. The KHSAA created separate regional and state team competitions this year, and while Boyle made both the girls and boys regional finals, the girls lost to Pulaski County 4-1 and the boys lost to Southwestern 3-2 on Wednesday.

Both Bischoff and Smith said communication was the key to their rapid improvement.

“We really don’t even have to talk as much whenever we’re playing shots now, and we just kind of know where we’re supposed to be and who’s got what and that makes it easier to work,” Smith said.

The Boyle duo had to win a 10-point tiebreaker that decided the match after splitting two sets.

“They had a lot of smart shots and I think that we also did, so we just had to think about where we were going to place the ball, and I think that made it a lot better for us,” Smith said.

Smith played in the state tournament as a freshman after Boyle qualified as a team, but Bischoff will make her state debut next week.

“I’ve never been to a competition that big. This is really the first time that I’ve even played regions … so this whole thing is a step up for me and I’m really excited about it,” she said.

Dunn took the final step to a regional title after reaching the finals as a sophomore and losing in the semifinals as a junior.

She defeated Savannah Heist of Pulaski 6-1, 6-3 in her final match Monday, then let out a scream that showed how much the win meant to her.

“It means everything,” Dunn said. “I’ve worked so hard for this moment, on my offseason training and just getting better every day and working to get to this point.”

The top-seeded Dunn, who will play basketball and tennis at Centre College, said she has improved not only her training regimen but also her shotmaking.

“I’ve tried to work on going for my shots and going for those lines and getting those winners,” she said. “Last year I didn’t do that. I was more of a pusher and I just got balls back, but this year I’ve tried to create my shot.”

Lee, a No. 1 seed for the second straight year, got a more satisfying result in his return to the boys singles final as he defeated Caleb Taylor of Somerset Christian 6-0, 6-0.

In boys doubles, Paver and Sallee lost to Pulaski’s Aiden Cheng and Aiden Webb 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, (10-5) in the title match, but their disappointment about that defeat was dwarfed by their delight in what they achieved to get to the finals.

“It was a blast,” Sallee said. “It was just so much fun to come out here and just shock people, and once we got past Casey we knew we had our ticket punched. We knew that we were going to go all the way to the championship. Unfortunately, we couldn’t close it out, but it doesn’t tarnish what we were able to do.”

Like the Boyle girls duo, Sallee and Paver were put together late in the season and played only four matches together before the regional, one of which was a 9-7 win over the same Casey pair.

“I think the reason why we work so well together is we are completely different in body types,” Paver said.

The four local finalists will advance to next week’s state tournament along with Carter Dilbeck of Danville (boys singles) and Kyra Cain and Gracie Demrow of Casey (girls doubles), who reached the semifinals.