Model’s Gus Benson and St. Xavier’s Brandon Lancaster were locked in a tight battle for most of the first set Saturday in the semifinals of the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament in Lexington.

Then things changed dramatically.

Lancaster broke Benson in the 12th game to wrap up the first set then rolled to a straight-set 7-5, 6-1 victory. The St. Xavier standout went on to win the state singles title, beating Covington Catholic’s Austin Hussey in the championship match, 5-7, 6-2, 10-8.

Benson had advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament each of the past two years, but got a step further this season.

The 11th Region champion rolled to four straight-set wins in the first two days of the state tournament, including Friday’s win over Henry Clay’s Ryo Takeda in the quarterfinals.

“Gus finished his high school career by reaching another goal of advancing further into the tournament,” Model coach Ric Hernandez said. “I’m very proud of his achievements and his commitment to the Model tennis program.”

In the first set, both players held serve pretty comfortably, until the ninth game. Benson went up 15-40 and then had another break point moments later.

On that play, Lancaster hit a second serve that Benson appeared to call out, but play continued and the eventual state champion was awarded the point.

Lancaster was able to hold serve and eventually took a 6-5 lead.

In the 12th game, Benson struggled to get a first serve in and had several errors as Lancaster was able to claim the first set.

In the second set, Benson was never able to recover.

Lancaster broke the Model senior in both of his service games and ran out to a 5-0 lead. Benson held in the sixth game, but Lancaster wrapped up the match with an ace a game later.

Benson has accepted an offer to walk-on at the University of Kentucky.

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