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Covington Latin tennis player wins girls singles title in 9th Region tournament for second straight year

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Covington Latin junior Sara Watanabe won the 9th Region championship in girls singles for the second consecutive year and hopes to make another deep run in the state tournament that begins May 31 at the University of Kentucky.

Watanabe won all of her region matches in straight sets, including a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Notre Dame senior Martine Hue in the finals on Thursday at Boone Woods Park.

Covington Latin junior Sara Watanabe prepares to serve during the 9th Region girls singles final. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

It was Watanabe’s fourth consecutive appearance in the region singles final. She was runner-up in 2018 and 2019, tennis was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and last year she became her school’s first girls region singles champion since 2001.

At last year’s state tournament, Watanabe made it to the semifinals in the singles bracket and lost a third-set tiebreaker that kept her from reaching the state final.

Notre Dame juniors Taylor Meenach and Hailey Fullenkamp claimed the 9th Region girls doubles title with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Helen Halbauer and Olivia Hoffman of Highlands in the finals on Thursday.

Last year, Meenach and Fullenkamp had different doubles partners and they played against each other in the region final. Meenach and her former partner won that match and made it to the round of 16 at the state tournament.

The doubles semifinal matches were completed earlier on Thursday with Meenach-Fullenkamp defeating Ally Rassenfoss and Natalie Elleman of Conner and Halbauer-Hoffman defeating Elizabeth Wintersheimer and Mahr Brar of Beechwood.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles in each region advance to the state tournament. The 9th Region’s other state qualifiers in girls singles are Honor Valentine of Highlands and Paetyn Ashcraft of Villa Madonna.

Notre Dame won the 9th Region girls team title with 12 points, followed by Highlands with 10 and Beechwood with seven. The Pandas have won the region team title every year except one since 1995.

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