John Burroughs and Rock Bridge won state tennis championships Thursday in Springfield, but a pair of local teams had lots to celebrate.
Springfield Catholic won fourth place in the Class 1 tournament, while Central won fourth place in Class 2. The 41st Missouri State High School Activities Association Girls Tennis Championships continue Friday and Saturday with individual singles and doubles tournaments at Springfield’s Cooper Tennis Complex.
Central celebrated reaching a final four — in any sport — for the first time since its girls basketball team won a state championship in 1984. The Bulldogs suffered losses to Lee’s Summit West and Parkway Central at the state championships to finish 19-5 on the season.
“It was just awesome to get here,” Central coach Jeff Fisher said. “We knew that going into (Thursday) we’ve had an awesome season, we’ve accomplished so much of what we set out to do. It was a little bit bitter to end the way we did, but just getting here was great.”
The match was the last high school competition for the No.1 doubles team of Darika Shaibekova and Halena Hadi. Central has talent in all six spots in the singles lineup.
“It’s unbelievable. Not only are they so talented, but they’re just fun to be around and there’s never a dull moment,” Fisher said.
Fisher credited Hadi and Shaibekova for their leadership throughout a winning season.
“They both organized everything for us, so hopefully someone — a junior, one of the underclassmen — will step up and take their spot doing that, but they’re going to be definitely missed,” Fisher said.
Springfield Catholic’s players were equally upbeat upon receiving their fourth-place copper medals from coach Martin Ver Steeg. Like Central, the Fightin’ Irish will lose two seniors to graduation in Maggie Meek and Emily Kroutil.
“This is one of the best experiences. We came in here, we’re like, ‘Even if we lose, we made it. We’re going to get medals. It’s OK,’” Kroutil said.
Catholic entered the final four 18-0, but back-to-back losses on Thursday dropped Catholic to 18-2 to end the season. Catholic celebrated a milestone of its own, with the Irish reaching the final four for the first time since 1999.
“Our whole school is proud of us and everyone that knows us, so it’s a really good accomplishment for us to be a part of that,” Kroutil said.
Kroutil will graduate with a total of four all-state medals. No. 1 singles player Anna Rader echoed Kroutil’s sentiments.
“Fourth place — it wasn’t disappointing to us. We were just very proud of the way we played and excited to be here,” Rader said.
Rader’s season continues Friday and Saturday, coming off a fourth-place finish at the state tournament as a sophomore. She battled a shoulder injury over the summer and into the fall high school tennis season but said she feels ready to pursue the third all-state singles medal of her career.
“My serves — I think I said last time that I’d like to work on those, and I think I have. I felt like I was serving really well and it didn’t hurt me at all, so it feels good,” Rader said.
High school girls tennis
At Cooper Tennis Complex
Class 1 third place
MICDS 5, Springfield Catholic 0
1. Sarah Mirkhaef and Ana Vallespir (MICDS) def. Anna Rader and Casey Lee (SC) 8-2
2. Caleigh McClain and Yoana Ivanova (MICDS) def. Emily Kroutil and Cecilia Bailey (SC) 8-4
3. Lindsay Parks and Brooke Wright (MICDS) def. Ashley Andrews and Maggie Meek (SC) 8-2
1. Caleigh McClain (MICDS) vs. Anna Rader (SC) DNF
2. Sarah Mirkhaef (MICDS) vs. Emily Kroutil (SC) DNF
3. Ana Vallespil (MICDS) def. Cecilia Bailey (SC) 6-0, 6-0
4. Lindsay Parks (MICDS) vs. Casey Lee (SC) DNF
5. Juliet Allpert (MICDS) def. Ashley Andrews (SC) 6-1, 6-2
6. Yoana Ivanova (MICDS) vs. Maggie Meek (SC) DNF
Class 2 third place
Parkway Central 5, Central (Springfield) 0
1. Elena Wilner and Zoe Hahn (PC) def. Darika Shaibekova and Halena Hadi (C) 8-1
2. Rebecca Davis and Michelle Korenfeld def. Meera Singhal and Avery VanDen Berg (C) 8-2
3. Alexis Ecker and Jessica Sun (PC) def. Maddie Fulk and Evelyn VanDen Berg (C) 9-8(7-2)
1. Elna Wilner (PC) def. Meera Singhal (C) 6-1, 6-1
2. Rebecca Davis (PC) vs. Danika Shaibekova (C) DNF
3. Zoe Hahn (PC) vs. Halena Hadi (C) DNF
4. Michelle Korenfeld vs. Maddie Fulk (C) DNF
5. Alexis Ecker (PC) def. Ruth Skolnick-Schur (C) 6-0, 6-2
6. Jessica Sun (PC) vs. Avery VanDen Berg (C) DNF