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Canigova moves on to semifinals

Lucia Canigova has been in the United States for only two months but the Bentonville senior has already made an impact on the Arkansas high school tennis scene.

Canigova, a foreign exchange student from Slovakia, easily advanced into today's Class 6A semifinals with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Springdale Har-Ber's Anna Scott McClendon in Monday's quarterfinals at the Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock.

"I thought I played well, but nothing really stood out," said Canigova, whose older sister Adriana won conference and state singles titles for Bentonville in 2015. "Everything was good."

Canigova, 17, won the 6A-West Conference title last month, defeating defending state champion Mary Houst0n of Fayetteville in the finals 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

Houston handed Canigova her only loss of the season three weeks prior to their 6A-West Conference championship match. A possible rematch between the two could happen in this afternoon's championship match.

"I have to be really ready for her," Houston said. "I have to go in confident and play my game. I'll have to really fight out there. [Canigova] is a really good player."

There's no guarantee of a third Houston-Canigova showdown. Houston's semifinal opponent is 6A-Central champion Kate Files of Fort Smith Northside. Houston and Files played for the 7A state singles title in 2017.

"I'm going to have to show up and be ready for anything," said Houston, a junior.

Canigova's semifinal opponent is Jenna Kate Bohnert of Rogers, who upset 6A-Central runner-up Elanor Burks of Little Rock Central, 7-5, 6-3, in Monday's quarterfinals.

Canigova said playing in a unfamiliar country has made for some interesting adjustments.

"The biggest difference is that we play on clay [in Slovakia]," Canigova said. "When I came here I found it very different to play on the hard court. ... I think my serve got worse when I got here, but I'm working on it."

In the boys tournament, Little Rock Catholic singles players Harrison Cook and Jackson Davis both advanced to today's semifinals.

Davis, a No. 2 seed, knocked off Nicholas Simpson 6-1, 6-2 in his quarterfinal match. Cook had to win twice on Monday, defeating Fayetteville's Jackson Ritchey 6-0, 6-2, in quarterfinal action.

Little Rock Central's Andrew Maxson, the 6A-Central Conference champion, downed Christian Bluden of Rogers 6-4, 6-2 in his quarterfinal match and will play Cook in the semifinals.

Davis will play 6A-West champion Hayden Shoemake of Bentonville West in the other semifinal match.

The Catholic doubles team of Henry Nolan and Steven Weeks are favored to capture their third consecutive title. The pair knocked off Bikram Baleskaran and Daniel Riabuchin of Bentonville 6-0, 6-2 in Monday's quarterfinals and will play the Rogers team of Cooper Gommel and Payne Henry in today's semifinals.

The second semifinal features Connor Clardy and Hayden Swope of Har-Ber against Little Rock Central's Phillip Abston and Zandy Djurica.

Lucia Canigova

Sports on 10/09/2018

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