The UCHS tennis program recently honored its players for their hard work this season. Pictured, from left, are Ben Hensley, Trey Hatcher, Trent Treadway, Noah Starnes, Brandolyn Thomas, Chase Erwin, Carson Moore, Katherine Altemose, Abbie Hensley, Natalia Hernandez, Winter Day-Honeycutt, Katlyn Higgins and Taylor Thomas; not pictured Aaron Manzanares and Daniel Campbell. (Contributed photo)

By Keeli Parkey

The 2017 season recently came to an end for the Unicoi County High School tennis teams. Blue Devils and Lady Devils played their final matches of the season in the District 1-A/AA tournament earlier this month.

For the Blue Devils, senior Trent Treadway advanced to the semifinals in the singles tournament, defeating South Greene’s Aiden Stills in the first round and Elizabethton’s Laken Barnett in the second round. A loss to Sullivan South’s Nate Barrett in the semifinals eliminated Treadway from the tournament.

Sophomore Ben Hensley also represented UCHS in the district tournament, losing to Jullian Hill of Sullivan North in the first round.

The UCHS doubles teams of juniors Chase Erwin/Daniel Campbell and juniors Trey Hatcher/Noah Starnes also competed in the district. Erwin and Campbell won their first round match, defeating Sullivan North’s Cox/McAmis team. Erwin and Campbell were eliminated from the tournament with a loss to the Sullivan South team of Manis/Carter in the second round.

Hatcher and Starnes also won their first round match, defeating Ferguson/Jones from North Greene, and lost their second round match. The team of Brown/Crum from South Greene defeated Hatcher and Starnes in the second round.

“I was really proud of the way the boys team performed this year,” head coach Karla Keesecker said. “They worked hard and improved their game all season long. Even though we came up a little short in a few matches, they all competed well.”

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Representing the Lady Devils in the district singles tournament was sophomore Taylor Thomas and freshman Katlyn Higgins. Thomas was defeated by Sullivan South’s Heather Sanders, the tournament’s top seed. Higgins lost to South’s Courtney Gibson.

In the doubles tournament, the Lady Devil team made of juniors Winter Day-Honeycutt and Abby Hensley lost to Sullivan East’s Nelson/Murray, the top team in the tournament. Also in doubles, the Lady Devil team of junior Carson Moore and sophomore Katherine Altemose lost to Johnson County’s May/Henson.

“The girls had a tough season this year,” Keesecker said. “They are a great group of girls to work with and I’m sure they will continue to work hard and improve.”

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Following the conclusion of the season, the Blue Devils and Lady Devils recognized players receiving awards from the conference and from their team.

For the Blue Devils, both Treadway and Erwin received all-conference awards. Treadway also received the team’s Blue Devil Award.

“Trent had a good season,” Keesecker said. “He played really well as the number one seed. He was a great role model for the team and I am proud of the way he performed this year, which is why he received our Blue Devil Award as well. Trent was our only senior this year.  He has been a great leader and role model for the boys’ team. He was always an encouragement and an excellent competitor. We will miss him.

“Chase had a great season this year,” Keesecker continued. “He played some long, tough singles matches and won some key matches for us during the season. I was really proud of his work ethic and  the way he competed.”

Hensley was named the boys’ Best Singles Player.

“This was Ben’s first year on the tennis team and he did an excellent job,” Keesecker said. “He finished the season with a 4-5 record. He won some great singles matches and lead the team to victory on several occasions. I was proud of how Ben improved and competed this season.”

Hatcher and Starnes were named the Blue Devils Best Doubles Team.

“This was Trey and Noah’s first year on the tennis team,” Keesecker said. “They did a wonderful job working on their game all season long and played some great doubles matches that went down to the wire and they had some great down from behind comebacks. They worked hard and competed well during the entire season.”

Sophomore Aaron Manzanares was recognized as the team’s Most Improved Player.

“I am so proud of Aaron this season,” Keesecker said. “He has worked so hard to improve and he has exceeded every expectation. He played some great matches this season in doubles with Ben Hensley and won a very important singles match at Sullivan East to help the team have a chance to win the overall match. He has worked hard and I look forward to his continued success.”

Keesecker also praised Campbell’s contributions to the team this season.

“I would also like mention Daniel Campbell who attends University High, but plays for UCHS,” she added. “Daniel had a great season as well. He was the key in our win against Sullivan Central and Sullivan North. He worked hard during the off season and was a great competitor during the season.”

Receiving all-conference honors for the Lady Devils were Day-Honeycutt and Thomas. Thomas was also chosen as the team’s Best Singles Player.

“Winter has worked extremely hard on her tennis game,” Keesecker said. “She continues to improve. I thought she did well especially since she went from the number 5 seed last year to the number 1 seed this year. She played some tough competition but was able to compete well.  I’m looking forward to her continued success.

“Taylor Thomas had an excellent season,” Keesecker added. “She competed well and worked hard. She did an excellent job in her matches and won a great match against Sullivan Central where she was down from behind and came back to win. I’m looking forward to her continued improvement.”

Moore and Altemose were named the girls’ Best Doubles Team. Altemose also received the Blue Devil Award.

“Carson and Katherine played some good doubles matches this year,” Keesecker said. “Including a great win against Sullivan North.

“Katherine went above and beyond this season,” she continued. “She has an excellent work ethic and attitude. She is a great role model for the team on and off the court. She always does her best in every match and has excellent sportsmanship. I’m looking forward to her continued success.”

Brandolyn Honeycutt was chosen as the Lady Devils’ Most Improved Player.

“Brandolyn played her first season of tennis this year,” Keesecker said. “I was very proud of Brandolyn’s work ethic and attitude. She did an amazing job this season. She worked so hard to improve. She won several of her matches and was an excellent competitor.”

Junia Gindlesperger served as an assistant coach for the UCHS tennis program this season.