Tennis

2021 The Daily Independent All-Area Girls Tennis Team: Ferguson serves up big season

2021 The Daily Independent All-Area Girls Tennis Team: Ferguson serves up big season

2021 The Daily Independent All-Area Girls Tennis Team: Ferguson serves up big season

Mia Ferguson carried an undefeated record into the 16th Region Tournament tennis singles final, where Ashland’s Abby Meek, whom she’d beaten in two previous encounters, waited.

Meek got the best of Ferguson on the region’s biggest stage at Ashland Tennis Center in straight sets. And the Russell senior, despite her outstanding season to that point, admitted it shook her.

“It was hard,” Ferguson said. “I had practiced a lot that week and woke up early for practices, so once I lost I kinda got in my head and I was like, ‘Why did I do all that? I could’ve probably gotten to this point without waking up and doing all this stuff.’

“So after that, I didn’t play for, like, two days because I was just upset and down on myself. But then my mom’s like, ‘Mia, you have State. You have to play.’”

Ferguson’s mother — and the Lady Devils’ coach — Larra Ferguson was right. And play Mia did.

Ferguson went on to win a match at the state tournament and be voted onto the Kentucky High School Tennis Coaches Association All-State Team. She was also named The Daily Independent’s All-Area Player of the Year, news she received with joyful surprise at the All-Area photo shoot.

“It means a lot more since I didn’t win regionals,” Ferguson said. “I kinda got down on myself after that, so hearing that makes things more happy and special for me.”

Ferguson hoped to gain momentum at the state tournament heading into her collegiate career at Georgetown College, where she will join sister Maci Ferguson, a Tigers senior-to-be. And Mia hopes to join Maci to form a doubles team, as they did for the Lady Devils in 2018 and on other occasions before that.

In the meantime, Ferguson discovered her mettle as a singles player, in addition to getting her feel back after a series of injuries cost her significant court time, in addition to COVID-19’s cancellation of last season.

“I’ve gotten a lot more consistent over the years,” Ferguson said. “After I had my surgery, my coaches really got on that with me.”

And the singles experience has helped Ferguson grow her game, she said, even if she still considers herself a doubles player and hopes that is her future.

“In doubles, I’m more of an attack-the-net girl, and my sister stays back and rallies and she’s the consistent one, so for me to have to learn to be the consistent one was different,” Ferguson said. “I don’t like to serve-and-volley. That’s not my game. I just stay back more and rally a deep ball.”

Ashland won its second consecutive 16th Region Tournament team competition, with Russell hot on its heels. And it came down to Ferguson versus Meek.

Kittens coach Eddie Sizemore elected to let Meek know what was riding on her match — a team championship in addition to a singles crown — as opposed to keeping it from her.

“That’s a lot of pressure, and Abby as a 10th-grader handled it exceptionally well,” Sizemore said. “She likes pressure. She thrives on pressure. She knew what was on the line, and she wanted to go out and try to win the team championship. That was the route we went, and she handled the pressure well.”

Ferguson and Meek each used the experience as a springboard to win their first matches in the state tournament. Lawrence County freshman Kennedy Gauze, the 15th Region Tournament singles champion, also won once at State. So did Rose Hill Christian’s Delaynee Sparks and Bellamee Sparks and the Lady Bulldogs’ Aubrey West and Ashlyn Osborn in doubles play.

The Sparks sisters — Delaynee a senior and Bellamee a junior — won the 16th Region Tournament doubles title. West, a senior, and Osborn, a junior, were runners-up in 15th Region Tournament doubles play.

East Carter junior Maria Hayes was a fourth-time selection. She reached the 16th Region Tournament singles semifinals.

Ferguson, Meek and Delaynee Sparks all garnered their third All-Area nods. Bellamee Sparks, Ashland junior Elizabeth Davis and East Carter senior Emma Moudy each made their second All-Area team.

Junior Abby McGuire, freshman Isabella Mayhorn and freshman Ella Sellars also represented Ashland. McGuire and Mayhorn comprised a 16th Region Tournament doubles semifinalist team.

Morgan County senior Kayleigh Murphy and sophomore Cora Beth Hammonds were the 16th Region Tournament doubles runner-up. Russell senior McKenna Barfield and sophomore Anna White were a region doubles semifinalist squad.

Rose Hill Christian seventh-grader Lakin Deerfield was a 16th Region singles semifinalist.

Johnson Central juniors Diya Patel and Madeline Robinson reached the 15th Region Tournament doubles final four.

Sizemore was tabbed the Coach of the Year after skippering the Kittens to their second straight region team title after Russell had won the previous six. He had to miss the photo shoot because he was in St. Louis that day pursuing a burgeoning pickleball career.

Sizemore said pickleball has natural carryover for the tennis-proficient.

“I’m trying to break into the senior pro division,” Sizemore said. “I’ve played two pro tournaments. My record is 0-5, but I’ve been very competitive. I got a feeling I might creep in and get me a win here pretty soon, so we’ll see.”

Barfield, the All-Area volleyball Player of the Year, was one of two All-Area members to have achieved that in another sport this school year. Bellamee Sparks did so in basketball.

Final placement in the region tournament as well as coaches’ selections determined the All-Area Team. The newspaper’s sports department selected the Player and Coach of the Year.

(606) 326-2658 |

zklemme@dailyindependent.com

2021 The Daily Independent All-Area Girls Tennis Team

McKenna Barfield (Russell)

Elizabeth Davis (Ashland)

Lakin Deerfield (Rose Hill Christian)

Mia Ferguson (Russell)

Kennedy Gauze (Lawrence County)

Cora Beth Hammonds (Morgan County)

Maria Hayes (East Carter)

Isabella Mayhorn (Ashland)

Abby McGuire (Ashland)

Abby Meek (Ashland)

Emma Moudy (East Carter)

Kayleigh Murphy (Morgan County)

Ashlyn Osborn (Lawrence County)

Diya Patel (Johnson Central)

Madeline Robinson (Johnson Central)

Ella Sellars (Ashland)

Bellamee Sparks (Rose Hill Christian)

Delaynee Sparks (Rose Hill Christian)

Aubrey West (Lawrence County)

Anna White (Russell)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Mia Ferguson (Russell)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Eddie Sizemore (Ashland)

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