Beaufort’s Daniel reaches final at Florence tennis event

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Beaufort’s McKenzie Daniel reached the Girls 18 Red singles final before falling to a familiar opponent at the Peanut Patch Junior Open in Florence over the weekend.

The larger age groups for the annual youth tennis event were split into two draws, selected at random and labeled as Red and White to limit the draw sizes.

Daniel was the No. 1 seed in the Girls 18 Red draw, and she backed it up by breezing into the final. After a first-round bye, Daniel won two straight matches in straight sets to earn a spot in the final alongside Hilton Head Island’s Emily Ruckno.

Ruckno made an impressive run through the bracket, as the unseeded Hilton Head High standout knocked off the top three seeds en route to the title. She outlasted No. 3 seed Gigi Hinson in three sets, then notched a straight set victory over Kate Coppage to reach the semifinals. Ruckno survived another three-set marathon to take down McKenzie Davis of Florence in the semis, then beat top-seeded Daniel 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

Three of the four finishers in the division were representatives of the Lowcountry, as Bluffton’s Natalie Bassett lost to Daniel in the semifinals and placed fourth.

Another Hilton Head Islander claimed runner-up honors, as Sophia Tauscher reached the Girls 12 White singles final. Tauscher was the No. 4 seed and knocked off second-seeded Mahaley Swink 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals before falling 7-6 (2), 6-0 to top-seeded Devin Gilroy. Tauscher dropped only one game in her first three matches leading up to the final.

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