Kerlin, Reese capture D-9 doubles tennis title | Sports

DuBOIS — The last time the Clearfield Lady Bison netters had a doubles team advance to the PIAA state tournament, Jimmy Carter was the president, families would turn on televisions at night to watch shows like Laverne & Shirley and Three’s Company and the Pittsburgh Steelers had won only two of its six Super Bowls.

The year was 1978. But for the first time in 44 years, Clearfield will send another duo as Lindsey Kerlin and Peyton Reese won the District 9 Class 2A Doubles Championship Monday at DuBois Area High School.

Kerlin and Reese topped the St. Mary’s team of Mya Klaiber and Caityln Blessel in the finals, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) to take the title and will move on to the Class 2A state tournament on Nov. 4 at the Hershey Racquet Club in Hershey.

“It’s been a while,” Clearfield head coach Garrett Spence said of the last time the Lady Bison won a doubles district title. “They played hard and it came down to a tiebreak here in the second set and they gutted it out. It’s awesome.”

The last Clearfield doubles team to make the state tournament in 1978 — back when it was one class — was Ruth Supko and Ardyth Dunegan.

Johnsonburg was the District 9 champion that year with both teams earning a bid to states.

Out of the 14 teams, both Kerlin and Reese and Klaiber and Blessel received first round byes. The Lady Bison champions then beat St. Marys’ June Chen and Roan Lion, 10-2, in the quarterfinals and the Brockway duo of Taylor Rhed — who was last year’s doubles champion with Selena Buttery — and Emma Miller, 6-2, 6-3.

Rhed and Miller were up 2-0 in the first set before Clearfield took control with a 6-2 first set win. A back-and-forth battle with Clearfield leading 4-3 in the second set would end as the Lady Bison took the 6-3 second set win.

Klaiber and Blessel beat Bradford’s Tylin Hillyard and Lilly Kemick, 10-1, to get to the semifinals, where they squared off against Elk County Catholic’s Lydia Anderson and Megan Emmert, soundly defeating the crosstown duo, 6-0, 6-2.

That set up the finals between the Lady Bison and the Lady Dutch, the latter of which has been no stranger when it comes to district championships, whether that be in singles, doubles or team play.

But on Monday, Kerlin and Reese would give Clearfield a district title, as they won the first set, 6-3, after being down 3-2 at one point.

St. Marys wouldn’t go away quietly, however, as with Clearfield up 4-3 in the second set, they would battle back to go up 5-4. But Kerlin and Reese would tie it up a 5-5 before Klaiber and Blessel made it 6-5 St. Marys as the Lady Dutch were on the verge of forcing a third and final set.

Kerlin and Reese had other plans, tying it up at 6-6 and forcing a tiebreak, which was then dominated by the Lady Bison duo, 7-2, and they captured the district championship.

Seven schools had two representatives each in the tournament, with Clearfield, St. Marys, Elk County Catholic, Brockway, Johnsonburg, Punxsutawney and Bradford taking part.

Coach Spence said he was proud of how the senior duo has improved this year and of the hard work they’ve put in, as Kerlin made the district semifinals in singles while Reese made the finals.

“How they’re communicating and their movements, they were picking up on things being seniors where some things in the past maybe they let go through,” Spence said. “Now through the summer and through the whole season, they’ve picked up on it and it’s shown in the results.”

While the school hasn’t had a state qualifier in 44 years in girls doubles, Kerlin said she and Reese went into the one-day tournament thinking they had a shot.

“I always try to be positive so I was like, ‘I’m going to win,'” Kerlin said. “It’s always the best thing to do (in being positive) and I just try to have confidence. Sometimes those waivers, as with anything.”

“I told her I was going to match her energy,” Reese said. “So if we went in here with a winning mindset, we were going out with a winning mindset … Go big or go home.”

By winning the district title, it’ll extend the tennis careers of Kerlin and Reese for almost a month longer as they prepare for the state tournament.

“It was fun,” Kerlin said of Monday’s tournament. “And now I’m really excited to go to Hershey and see what teams are there. I’d imagine they’re going to be super good, but it’s going to be fun.”

TOURNAMENT RESULTS

Team Key: Bradford — BR, Brockway — BW, Clearfield — C, Elk County Catholic — ECC, Johnsonburg — J, Punxsutawney — P, St. Marys — MS

First Round

Lindsey Kerlin/Peyton Reese (C), bye; June Chen/Roan Lion (SM) def. Josie VanAlstine/Rachael Wolfe (ECC), 10-2; Kendal Mehalko/Maria Catalano (J) def. Alislya Dansberger/Jaylee Koppenhaver (BR), 10-7; Taylor Rhed/Emma Miller (BW) def. Bailee Stello/Kaylin Smith (P), 10-3.

Mya Klaiber/Caitlyn Blessel (SM), bye; Tylin Hillyard/Lilly Kemick (BR) def. Katelyn Olson/Sarah Catherman (C), 10-2; Emily McMahan/Brooke Skarbek (P) def. Katelyn Love/Aliza Jackson (J), 10-1; Lydia Anderson/Megan Emmert (ECC) def. Leah Trunzo/Kassi Tucker (BW), 10-0.

Quarterfinals

Kerlin/Reese (C) def. Chen/Lion (SM), 10-2; Rhed/Miller (BW) def. Mehalko/Catalano (J), 10-4; Klaiber/Blessel (SM) def. Hillyard/Kemick (BR), 10-1; Anderson/Emmert (ECC) def. McMahan/Skarbek (P), 10-4.

Semifinals

Kerlin/Reese (C) def. Rhed/Miller (BW), 6-2, 6-3; Klaiber/Blessel (SM) def. Anderson/Emmert, (ECC) 6-0, 6-2.

Finals

Kerlin/Reese (C) def. Klaiber/Blessel (SM), 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

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