There is still a lot to figure out for the Monroe County tennis squads, so to open the season the Keys teams took to each other’s courts, with Coral Shores visiting Key West on Thursday and the Lady Conchs traveling to Marathon on Friday in hopes of answering some of those early season quandaries.
“We have such a good relationship with them and are always a pleasure to play,” said Coral Shores coach Kim Browning during the Hurricanes’ season opener. “We are still moving positions around, so I think this is good for everyone involved, but really other than that it’s TBA.”
What was established is that the Lady Conchs may be the team to beat in the county this season, as they lost just two matches of the 14 contested in the two-day period. The most eye-opening of those wins was Key West sophomore Sophia Lyashenko ending Marathon junior Lilian Guo’s four-plus-year unbeaten streak against county opponents, as the No. 1s battled to extra points for a 9-8 finish.
“I don’t know that Lillian has been beaten in the last few years, if ever, by someone from the Keys,” said Key West coach Paul Findlay.
The Lady Conchs would shut out the Lady ‘Fins, 7-0, as Jess Brady won 8-4 at No. 2, Isabella Johnson claimed a 8-3 win at No. 3, Mail Strunk was a 8-0 winner at No. 4 and so was Juju Jutte, who finished off the singles with an 8-0 triumph. In doubles, Lyashenko and Brady won 8-0 with Johnson and Jutte winning, 8-2.
A day earlier, it was also Key West who earned the girls victory, 5-2. Lyashenko had another tough opponent to get through in the form of Lady ‘Canes No. 1 Harmony Hollmquist in a 8-6 final, while Brady was also able to open her season with a 8-2 win. Strunk held off Emma Host, 8-5, at No. 4 to extend Key West’s lead and the No. 5 singles came down to an extra set with Jette just outlasting Macy Cakans, 9-8.
The lone boys match came on Thursday with the Hurricanes proving they still controlled the county by losing just one on-court match in the opener against the Conchs, as the top three — Evan Tiedemann 8-1, Mikaui Burga, 8-0, and Alex Sternberg, 8-0 — combined to lose only one game, while also winning No. 1 double, 8-2, and No. 2 doubles, 8-1. Key West’s lone win come at No. 4 with Jackson Moore holding onto an 8-4 triumph and the Hurricanes forfeited No. 5.
While the Key West and Marathon boys did not get to play on Friday, they will take to the courts at the Key West Back Yard on Friday, a day after the Dolphins head north to Coral Shores, all part of an early-season schedule that the county teams believe will be beneficial for all.
“I think we are a pretty evenly matched against Key West this year, so this was a great way to get started,” said Browning.