PANAMA CITY — The renovation of the Bay High tennis team is progressing about as well as Kay Kovaleski could hope.
Forced to replace her entire starting five in boys tennis and another three players on the girls’ team, Kovaleski has watched her two squads perform admirably, overcoming their inexperience and uncooperative weather early this season.
Bay’s girls earned a 3-3 tie against visiting Pensacola High on Wednesday before darkness forced an end to the non-district duel. Bay’s boys fell 6-1 against the Tigers, who play one classification higher than Bay in Class 3A.
The Tornado girls are 2-1-1 overall, the boys 2-2. Both Bay teams are 2-0 in District 1-2A.
“We had a real good win against West Florida Tech, and I was real pleased with that,” Kovaleski said. “We have Rutherford tomorrow in a district match and we’re hoping to win that. Then we’re at Arnold next Tuesday, and that will show where we’re at in the district.”
Chloe Harris and Marley Peters are the two returning starters on the girls team. In singles play Harris defeated Kelsey McCall 6-0, 6-2, and Peters rallied past Sarah McMahon via third-set tiebreaker in a 5-7, 6-3, 10-3 win. Harris and Peters were leading McCall and McMahon 5-3 in the first set in doubles play before darkness caused an end to the match and forced the teams into a 3-3 tie.
“They were ready to assume the No. 1 and No. 2 positions,” Kovaleski said of Harris and Peters, respectively. “I don’t think there was any question at all.”
Kovaleski doesn’t have that luxury on the boys’ side. She tinkered with her lineup in singles and doubles against the Tigers, and she has more to learn about her players just four matches into the year.
“We came in expecting a rebuilding year,” she said. “The kids have really filled in. Lucas (Dykes), Christian (Wilkins) and Zack (Boone) were on the team last year, but they weren’t in the Top 5. So that has helped. They know the routine.”
Kovaleski noted that freshman Matt Bruhn also ranks among Bay’s best players and just needs more time on the court to develop.
Wilkins was the lone Bay player to win in singles play against Pensacola, defeating Will Hahn 7-6 (2), 6-4.
The poor weather that has blown through the region over the past week has disrupted the Tornadoes’ practice schedule.
“Our courts drain so awful that if it rained right now and didn’t rain again until tomorrow afternoon, the courts would still be full of water,” Kovaleski said. “It hurt because we don’t get to practice our strokes to be consistent. My assistant, Robb Gould, whenever he comes out he runs drills with them and all that. That helps, especially with the younger players.”
Wednesday’s results are below. Bay’s players are listed first.
- Bay girls 3, Pensacola 3
- Singles: Chloe Harris d. Kelsey McCall 6-0, 6-2; Marley Peters d. Sarah McMahon 5-7, 6-3, 10-3; Mary Higby lost to Rebecca Soloway 4-6, 6-0, 10-8; Elizabeth Allen lost to Rosa McWhirter 6-4, 6-2; Candice Blount won by forfeit.
- Doubles: Harris-Peters leading McMahon-Soloway 5-3; Higby-Allen lost to Soloway-McWhirter 8-5.
- Pensacola boys 6, Bay 1
- Singles: Lucas Dykes lost to Yahn Olson 6-2, 6-3; Matt Bruhn lost to Noah Barnes 6-1, 6-2; Corey Joseph lost to Zack McKerley 8-5; Christian Wilkins d. Will Hahn 7-6 (7-2), 6-4; Zack Boone lost to Thomas Walsh 6-2, 6-3.
- Doubles: Dykes-Wilkins lost to Olson-Hahn 8-2; Bruhn-Joseph lost to Barnes-McKerley 8-2.