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051519-qct-spt-girls-reg-tennis-003

Bettendorf's Lydia Kennedy returns a volley against Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Lily Gust during her Class 2A regional singles match in Eldridge on Wednesday.

ELDRIDGE — Lydiah Kennedy had no shortage of motivation Wednesday.

To add to the sting of losing in a tiebreaker in last year's regional semifinal and placing third at the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet eight days ago, Kennedy was the lone seeded singles player entering the semifinals at the Class 2A regional tournament.

And with the state tournament taking place on her home courts at Bettendorf, the senior was trying to nab her first state bid.

Kennedy grabbed the opportunity by the horns.

Triumphing 6-1, 6-2 over Clinton's Kallyn Keefer in the semifinals at North Scott's tennis courts sent her through to state, and she punctuated her afternoon with a 7-5, 6-2 win in the championship over Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Reya Sands.

"Losing that was tough, but I really wanted to come back strong," Kennedy said. "I was very motivated to get to state."

The River Queens' top two doubles teams of Kaylee Camp/Abby Struble and Mackenzie Lange/Kylie Housenga finished 1-2 to earn berths at state on May 29-30.

"When everything went up on the big screen this morning, I went 'Oh Jesus loves the Queens,'" Clinton head coach Cindy Rasche said. "We're just excited to have gotten there."

With Davenport Central's Maitreyi Shrikhande and Clinton's Lacy Pickney losing their second round matches in straight sets, the top half of the bracket was shaping up favorably for the bottom half.

It really opened up with North Scott's Georgia Nissen had to medically forfeit because of a broken wrist. Nissen defeated Kennedy in the regular season.

"We were kind of looking forward to that," Bettendorf head coach Ron Stout said. "Not in terms of complete relaxation, but there was a little bit less on her part playing a different player."

After what Kennedy called a nervous and shaky first round match — in which she defeated Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Lily Gust 6-4, 7-5 — the nerves went away.

"I felt a little bit more confident, just because I knew I was a higher seed," Kennedy said. "I knew I had a better chance."

Stout believes she can compete with anybody she faces at state.

"Her serve is by far one of the best at least in our area, and that sets up her points really well," he said. "Not trying to play outside of her limits, that's when she plays at her best."

After easily winning the first set of their respective semifinal matches, the Clinton tandems began to trail in set two, each by the score of 4-3.

With tough coaching, the River Queens duos mounted a comeback.

Hard hits and winning first serves allowed Camp and Struble to grab a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Megan Gifford/Kelsey Jaeger of Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Two years of chemistry pushed Lange and Housenga over the hump with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Bettendorf's Mya Christensen/Dena Pyevich.

It marks the first time both pairs will be going to state.

"We knew we just had to take it one point at a time and not worry about past mistakes," Camp said.

"It's really exciting," Lange added. "That was our goal."

Rashe isn't shy of putting expectations on her four players.

"I always believe we can win," she said. "You believe that any person is beatable on any given day."

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