Thursday, May 31, 2001

Kentucky tennis tournament preview

Yeager follows in brother's footsteps

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

        Dixie Heights senior Justin Yeager competes in his final state tournament today at the University of Kentucky. He became a three-time Region 12 champion two weeks ago, and he's seeded sixth this week.

        If anyone has pressure to perform in Lexington, it's Justin Yeager.

        His brother Jason won two straight singles titles in 1989-90 and became just the third Northern Kentuckian to win one. Jason attended UK and had a brief professional career in the mid-1990s.

        Justin was just 6 when Jason won the '89 title.

        “When I was little, I thought I'd win the state championship,” Justin Yeager said.

        Justin joined Dixie's varsity squad as a sixth-grader in 1995, but his dreams stalled. Some years Dixie didn't qualify as a team, and several times he threw his rackets in the closet for six months at a stretch.

        He'll attend Xavier next fall, and his sixth seed is his highest ranking in his seven years playing varsity.

        And what's more important, the younger Yeager has learned a valuable lesson.

        “I didn't learn until this age how hard you had to work,” he said.

        Yeager is one of four local seniors who complete their high school careers this week. Highlands' Ben Freer is seeded ninth in singles, and Beechwood's Ashley Busald and Billy Hopkins are fourth in doubles.

        “Us four, we grew up together,” said Freer, who's headed to Valparaiso. “I know for a fact it's made me a better tennis player.”

        Busald, a Transylvania recruit, and Northern Kentucky University-bound Hopkins won their third regional doubles title this year.

        Three-time regional singles champion Miriam Rahali of Covington Latin has a relatively easy draw, but runner-up Sarah Due of Dixie Heights does not.

        Rahali is seeded fifth and wouldn't see a seeded player until No.3 Ashley Kroh in Friday's quarterfinals. Due meets Kroh in the second round today.

        Notre Dame, the Region 12 team champion, has sophomores Molly Molony and Jackie Vilines seeded third in doubles.

        In singles, if Notre Dame junior Megan Guenthner gets by Danville's Alyssa Thornton in the first round, she meets sixth seed Remy Swain of Louisville DuPont Manual.

        In doubles, Notre Dame juniors Caitlyn Shaughnessy and Lauren Simendinger meet top seeds Anna and Rachel Lask of Kentucky Country Day.


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