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  • Val T.

Houston, McCarter win in 3rd set tiebreaks, lead Rochester past LaVille

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

High school tennis matches that go to a third-set tiebreak might be considered rare.

Two high school tennis matches that go to a third-set tiebreak at the same time on adjoining courts might be especially rare.

Kylie Houston

And going to a third-set tiebreak in the first match of one’s varsity career might be the rarest yet.

But it all worked out for Rochester in their 3-2 season-opening win over LaVille at the RHS courts on April 12.

Rochester trailed 2-1 with both No. 1 singles player Kylie Houston and No. 2 singles player Ella McCarter locked up in matches that went the distance.

But McCarter won the last six points of the match and went on to beat Elaina Franz 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2). Then all eyes were on Houston. Her tiebreak was tied 6-6, but she drew one forehand error from Megan Kurzhal and another after a deep lob to pull out a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) win.

Lilith Eaton secured Rochester’s first point with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Annabelle Miller at No. 3 singles.

Said Rochester coach Jesse Atkinson: “Holy cow, that was a great match.”

Atkinson noted that McCarter, a freshman playing in her first varsity match, was actually the most experienced player on the team, given her three years of middle school experience. McCarter acknowledged her fatigue in the fading daylight.

Ella McCarter

“I was super tired,” McCarter said. “Let’s just say that. But it’s really exciting because I’ve never won a third set before.”

She said she had to angle her serve in different directions to deal with harsh winds. Servers facing Indiana 14 were hitting into a headwind.

Both McCarter and Houston have had older siblings play for Rochester. McCarter’s older sister Abbie and older brother Grant played for the Zebras while Houston’s older sister Hannah once occupied the No. 1 singles spot. Kylie said Hannah told her to have fun this season.

Asked if this was the most stressful sporting event she had participated in, Kylie Houston said the volleyball regionals she played in October 2019 and October 2020 trumped this tennis match. So she said it wasn’t “super nerve wracking for me.”

She said she noticed that Kurzhal seemed to tire as the match went on.

“I just really had to secure the next two points,” Kylie Houston said when asked what she was thinking at 6-6 in the tiebreak. “The whole set, she was getting really tired, so my goal was to run her around the court and just see if I could catch her on a quick one.”

LaVille took both doubles matches. Lauren Dove and MaKenna Tribbey rallied from a set down to top Rily Holloway and Emily Hughes 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles, and Lauren Hominiuk and Olivia Krueger beat Makenna Beall and Rylee Clevenger 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.

McCarter, Holloway, Hughes, Beall and Clevenger were all making their varsity debuts. Houston and Eaton had played in a varsity match before, but this was their first matches in their respective spots.

Atkinson acknowledged how the lost season of 2020 is still affecting this year’s team.

“This is an extraordinarily athletic squad,” Atkinson said. “This is the kind of team that you look at this one through seven and think, ‘Man, I wish they would have played four years. I wish they would have had the opportunity to play four years.’ This year’s seniors would have missed their sophomore year to COVID. This year’s juniors would have missed their freshman year to COVID. … Missing that year affects a team like ours. … There’s not a lot of kids where tennis is their number one sport. And though there wasn’t a season, we were still going and we were still playing tennis, and we were still trying to work on tennis, which is certainly not a complaint. It’s just reality.”

Results: Rochester 3, LaVille 2

Singles

Kylie Houston (RHS) def. Megan Kurzhal (LV), 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6)

Ella McCarter (RHS) def. Elaina Franz (LV), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2)

Lilith Eaton (RHS) def. Annabella Miller (LV), 6-0, 6-0

Doubles

Lauren Dove-MaKenna Tribbey (LV) def. Rily Holloway-Emily Hughes (RHS), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1

Lauren Hominiuk-Olivia Krueger (LV) def. Makenna Beall-Rylkee Clevenger (RHS), 6-3, 6-2

JV results: Rochester 3, LaVille 0

Singles

Kaedra Shook (RHS) won 7-1.

Doubles

Taylor Howard-Elizabeth Weaver (RHS) won 8-0.

Lola Brady-Kseniia Shyp (RHS) won 7-1.


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