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Little translation has been necessary on the tennis court this spring for Luke Dove and Michael Chen.
The sport has been the perfect interpreter for the Shelby County juniors. And Dove and Chen, an exchange student from Taiwan, remained perfect in their partnership on the court with a straight sets triumph at No. 1 doubles to help the Rockets avenge an earlier loss to crosstown-rival Collins with a 4-1 triumph Friday at Clear Creek Park.
Meanwhile on the girls’ side, Shelby County edged the Titans 3-2 for its fourth consecutive victory in the series.
The Rockets (12-3) handed the Titans (12-2) just their second loss of the season thanks to victories at Nos. 1 and 3 singles and in both doubles matches.
At No. 1 singles Shelby County senior Ethan Russell, who missed Collins’ 3-2 victory over the Rockets on March 21, topped Titans senior Luke Noel 6-1, 6-2 while Shelby senior Doug Martin blanked Collins senior John Usher, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 3.
At No. 1 doubles, Dove and Chen outlasted Collins senior Derek Stivers and junior Cy Dutton 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) in the best match of the day.
“Both teams fought as hard as we could, we hit some shots we needed to hit,” Dove said.
Dove and Chen usually play No. 2 doubles (senior Doug Martin and Jeron Russell, who advanced to the State Tournament last year, play No. 1) were moved up to No. 1 Friday to help solidify seedings for next month’s 8th Region Tournament.
Dove and Chen were placed together in the Rockets’ third match of the season. And although North Oldham defeated Shelby County 3-2, Dove and Chen triumphed 0-6, 6-4, 1-0 (11-9) in their first match.
“It’s worked out ever since,” Dove said.
With the 6-foot-4 Dove, the more outspoken of the two – “I’m kind of the voice,” he said – patrolling the net and Chen manning the baseline, the two outlasted Stivers and Dutton, whose only other loss this season was to Martin and Russell, to improve to 11-0 together.
“It was a good match,” Chen said.
At No. 2 doubles, Russell and sophomore Josh Barry downed Collins senior David Hormell and eighth-grader Logan Noel 6-2, 6-0.
The Titans’ lone triumph came at No. 2 singles, where eighth-grader Jared Baltzell remained undefeated (13-0) on the season with 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Shelby County junior Jimmy Welman.
The team competition came down to a battle of seventh-graders at No. 3 singles, where Shelby County’s Yohari Salama outlasted Collins’ relentless Rylee Suttor, 6-4, 7-5, to help the Rockets follow up their 4-1 victory over the Titans on March 21.
In the back-and-forth second set, Salama rallied from a 15-30 deficit in the 11th game, then broke Suttor in the 12th to triumph.
Shelby County’s other victories came in doubles. Freshmen Rachel Dove and Kendall Souder topped Collins sophomore Abigail Griggs and freshman Madi Hurley 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1, while juniors Jordan Rood and Melanie Roley topped Ashton Schneider and Kayley Smith 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2.
The Titans, meanwhile, triumphed at Nos. 1 and 2 singles. Junior Ashley Quinn outlasted Shelby County senior Hailey Coffey in a 10-point, third-set tiebreaker, winning 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (13-11) at No. 1 while Collins freshman Eliza Davis defeated Shelby County junior Emalee Turley 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2.
BOYS: Shelby County 4, Collins 1
No. 1 – Ethan Russell (SCHS) def. Luke Noel (CHS) 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 – Jared Baltzell (CHS) def. Jimmy Welman (SCHS) 6-3, 6-4; No. 3 – Doug Martin (SCHS) def. John Usher (SCHS) 6-0, 6-0.
No. 1 – Luke Dove-Michael Chen (SCHS) def. Derek Stivers-Cy Dutton (CHS) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5); No. 2 - Jeron Russell-Josh Barry (SCHS) def. David Hormell-Logan Noel (CHS) 6-2, 6-0.
GIRLS: Shelby County 3, Collins 2
No. 1 – Ashley Quinn (CHS) def. Hailey Coffey (SCHS) 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (13-11); No. 2 – Eliza Davis (CHS) def. Emalee Turley (SCHS) 6-4, 6-3; No. 3 – Yohari Salama (SCHS) def. Rylee Suttor (CHS) 6-4, 7-5.
No. 1 – Rachel Dove-Kendall Souder (SCHS) def. Abigail Griggs-Madison Hurley (CHS) 6-1, 6-3; No. 2 – Jordan Rood-Melanie Roley (SCHS) def. Kayley Smith-Ashton Schneider (CHS) 6-1, 6-2.