As Central Buckeye Conference competitors they battled on the tennis court during the regular season. Thursday, Kenton Ridge’s Macy Wallace and Tecumseh’s Ashley Fite will be among each other’s biggest fans.
The seniors travel to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason to represent Clark County in the district tournament. Fite competes in the Division I bracket and Wallace in Division II. For Wallace, this marks her third appearance and second straight in singles. She also qualified in doubles as a sophomore. Fite makes her first appearance.
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“I’m really nervous now,” Fite said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about district and how everyone is really, really good. I’m just going to go knowing that I made it and have fun.”
Fite enters as the No. 4 seed and takes on No. 1 Kelli Hiehaus, a senior from Cincinnati’s Mount Notre Dame. Wallace, also a No. 4 seed, plays No. 1 freshman Abby Nugent of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
Two wins are needed to reach the semifinals and advance to next week’s state championships in Mason. But that’s easier said than done in a tough district loaded with talent, especially from the Cincinnati sectional. Still, playing at the same tennis center and on the same courts where professionals like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have performed is almost thrill enough.
“I haven’t played on the big courts (with smaller stadium seating) yet,” Wallace said. “It’s still fun either way. I’m okay with the practice courts.”
Wallace started playing tennis around age 11 after watching her sister Ashley, also a district qualifier. Macy played Ashley often but her older sister never took it easy on her. The younger Wallace finally broke through last season with a win against Ashley.
“She just beat me a lot,” Macy said, smiling. “Finally I beat her this year and I think I beat her last year. She helped me play stronger. … Tennis looks hard, which it is, but my sister playing definitely helped me to like it.”
“Macy is a great kid,” KR coach Sherri Bennett said. “I’m really sad I’m losing that family. They’re a very competitive family. That helps. It shows on the court. They’re willing to work in the off season and that shows on the court, too.”
As for Fite, her best sport is softball. But she’s got an impressive swing in tennis, too, as Tecumseh coach Mike Crago has discovered.
“We play all the time and I hit shots I think are winners. Next thing I know she’s sprinting for it, getting low and hitting it back,” Crago said. “That frustrates a lot of opponents. She basically out hustles them and wears them down. She can run all day.”
Fite’s tennis is mostly limited to the fall season. She doesn’t take lessons but will try to get in a practice here and there around her softball schedule. Playing against opponents who practice several times a week with private coaches and play in tournaments on the weekends adds to the challenge for Fite.
“It’s kind of hard because everybody knows more about the game than I do. That makes it more difficult to play,” Fite said. “I’m definitely going to be nervous.”
Said Crago: “It’s tough down there. It’s extremely tough. I’ve already told her it’s a completely different level of tennis than anything we see around here. I think she’s excited for the opportunity. But she also knows it’s going to be probably like nothing she’s seen before. … I know whoever she plays against she’s going to put up a good fight.”
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