Tennis seniors ready for region tournament

NICHOLASVILLE — Luke Duncan and Saif Siddiqui have very different tennis backgrounds.

Duncan has been playing “his entire life,” he says, and he and his sister Anna have been a mainstay on Boyle tennis teams in the past five-plus years.

Siddiqui, on the other hand, started playing tennis at Danville just two years ago. He credits former teammate Konner Hill — who graduated last year — as well as Duncan with helping his game.

Duncan beat Siddiqui 6-3, 6-0 in their match on Monday at Nicholasville’s Top Seed Tennis facility. But he said he was impressed with how far Siddiqui has come in just two years of playing.

“He’s great, I’ve been playing my whole life and this is his second year. He’s already doing so good, I’m pretty hyped to see that for him,” Duncan said. “I’m glad he picked up the sport and we’re able to connect through that, on top of being friends.”

Duncan will likely be the No. 3 seed in the region tournament in two weeks. Region will, for the second straight season, be held at Boyle County, Danville and Centre College.

“I’m kind of expecting to get seeded No. 3 hopefully this year, the guys from Berea and Wayne County above me,” Duncan said. “I played pretty good against both of them, I think nerves had a little bit to do with those matches. You’ve just got to prepare well beforehand and come ready to go.”

Siddiqui understands he’s up against it with talented players like Duncan in the region, but he’s excited to go out and compete.

“Region is going to be pretty tough,” Siddiqui said. “I don’t think I’ll be seeded, I just want to go out there and give it my all and hopefully do well.”

The two seniors certainly know what it’s like to compete — Duncan was on Boyle County’s football team that won a state championship in the fall, and Siddiqui helped Danville soccer to a 45th District championship.

“As far as Boyle goes, I think being a leader has — I’ve learned a lot from football too — it’s not necessarily about what you say, it’s about what you do,” Duncan said. “Staying after, helping some of the younger kids with technique, things like that. Then just playing hard, working hard, leading by example goes a long way with us.”

“It’s all about taking what I learned from Konner, who was a year above me, and just regurgitating it to the other kids who are new and help them with those basics that will get them farther in matches,” Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui has also learned from playing Duncan so much, whether it’s in matches like Monday’s or in practice.

“Luke is actually one of the greatest guys I know and one of the best tennis players I know,” Siddiqui said. “He’s helped me pick up tennis and get decent at it. I’m grateful for it.”

The pair have been able to practice on the region courts across the county in preparation for the regional tournament.

“I think that’s a really big advantage for us, I think both Boyle and Danville are able to take advantage of Centre’s courts, both during the high school tennis season and during the offseason,” Duncan said. “I think that gives us an advantage because those courts are a little bit different than normal courts.”

Siddiqui agreed.

“It’s extremely useful because you can go out there and practice, get a feel for the courts,” he said. “Centre is a lot different than our courts, it’s just good prep for the regionals.”