Grace's Bentley-Rook, Lady Trojans win state titles

Grace Community senior Rebekah Bentley (second from left) and junior Caroline Rook (third from left) won the TAPPS 4A state doubles championship Thursday at Waco Regional Tennis Center. Also pictured are assistant coach Loni Hammons (far left) and head coach Luke Griffin (far right). (Courtesy photo)

WACO — Grace Community earned a doubles championship and the All Saints girls won yet another team title.

TAPPS 2-4A made a clean sweep of the TAPPS 4A state tennis tournament Thursday at Waco Regional Tennis Center, highlighted by the teams from Tyler.

Lady Cougars Rebekah Bentley and Caroline Rook won the girls doubles championship and earned their team a fourth-place finish by themselves. But it was the Lady Trojans who did enough to claim their second straight team triumph at the 4A level.

Additionally, Dallas Parish Episcopal swept the boys singles, doubles and team competitions and won the girls singles bracket.

Also, in TAPPS 3A, Bullard Brook Hill’s Hunter Scammahorn finished second in boys singles.

The match of the day came in the girls doubles semifinals with two familiar foes facing off — Grace’s Bentley-Rook and All Saints’ Megan Leihgeber-Luci Bates.

The teams had split their two earlier meetings and in the rubber match, the Lady Cougars won the final three games to secure a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory and advance to the final.

“At the end when it counted, they played better,” All Saints coach Andrea Booth said.

Grace coach Luke Griffin said his team’s victory was proof of the chemistry Bentley and Rook developed in their first year playing doubles with each other.

“It was a real mental battle for both of them,” Griffin said. “To work together, to work as a team to overcome those mental obstacles was certainly a challenge.”

In the final, Bentley-Rook rallied from down 5-1 in a first-set tiebreaker to win 7-5 on the way to a 7-6, 6-2 victory over Corpus Christi Incarnate Word’s Mary Hubert-Elizabeth Kirkland.

“The girls from Grace fought hard and ended up coming back, getting a lot of points in a row and winning that first set,” Grace coach Luke Griffin said. “They were fantastic.”

Bentley, a senior who lost to All Saints’ Leihgeber-Sydney Booth in the semifinals last year, and Rook, a junior who reached state as a freshman singles player, were both academic all-state and, Griffin said, had the drive to win a championship.

“The girls are very different in terms of personality, but they both had the goal of winning state,” Griffin said. “They both have the talent.”

No matter the division, the Lady Trojans have won the team title every year since 2007, with seniors Leihgeber and Kaitlyn Huskey playing large roles the last four years.

“I’m happy for the seniors — for Megan and Kaitlyn,” Booth said of the team championship. “They’ve won a state title every year they’ve been at the school. They’ve been a big part of us winning state. We’re going to miss them next year.”

Huskey fell in the semifinals of the singles bracket for the fourth straight year on Thursday, losing 6-0, 6-1 to Houston Second Baptist’s Christine Kharkevitch, who won a state singles title in 2010.

“She’s just won a ton of matches for our school and it’s a shame that it’s so strong that she hasn’t been able to make it to the finals because she’s a good enough player to be in the finals,” Booth said of Huskey. “She’s been up against some good players.”

Parish Episcopal’s Blair Shankle won the girls singles tournament. Nicholas Izzard and Eric Musselman defended their boys doubles title and Brent Friedman won boys singles for the Panthers, who took their third straight team championship.

As soon as Scammahorn arrived home from his defeat in the TAPPS 3A singles championship match, the Guard sophomore went right back to work.

Scammahorn, who lost in the state semifinals as a freshman, had another tennis practice Thursday evening, hours after earning second in state, Brook Hill coach Les Rhea said.

Scammahorn edged San Antonio Keystone’s Kevin Lee 7-6, 7-6 in the semifinals to set up a match with Charlie Shin of Austin The Khabele School, who Rhea said is the third-ranked player in the state in his age group.

Shin won the final 6-2, 6-2 over Scammahorn, who finished third in state as a freshman.

“He really played that kid real good,” Rhea said. “(Shin is) a really good player. (Scammahorn) played him well.

“He really played some good tennis today.”

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