It’s a bit of a surprise that two of the area’s Class 2 top singles players did not meet in the regular season this year.
So when Hillcrest’s Breanna Feemster and Branson’s Taylor Johnston finally met in Friday’s state quarterfinals, perhaps they decided to play almost two matches worth of tennis.
Feemster came from behind to outlast Johnston in a three-set match at Cooper Tennis Complex, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, earning a spot in today’s 9 a.m. semifinal.
The match lasted about 140 minutes, and featured several momentum swings between the competitors.
In windy conditions with temperatures barely above 50 degrees, Feemster came out cold to drop the first set. However, down 5-4 in the second, she fought off a match point and then took control of the match.
“I knew that she liked to be aggressive and come out strong, so I had to be ready for that,” Feemster said. “I stayed positive, and that’s one thing that helps me a lot. She had a match point, but I just held it off and kept going.”
Feemster won the final three games of the second set, and then the first three of the third to take control.
“Later on, I just decided to settle down a little bit and focus on my strokes,” Feemster said. “I just wanted to keep the ball in to keep the point going.”
But Johnston had more fight left in her, as the powerful Branson junior evened the final set with three games of her own.
Feemster took the final two games to win the match, but not before Johnston fought off four match points.
“I kept getting tense, but I just had to try and not focus on my score,” Feemster said. “At the beginning, I was (thinking about the weather), but I just got used to it and tried to block it out.”
Feemster will meet Bridget Mayfield of Kirkwood in the semifinal. Feemster qualified for the Class 1 semifinals last year, and lost in the Class 1 quarterfinals last year.
Forsyth senior doubles partners Sami Johnson and Avery Lawson, competing in Class 1 doubles for the second year, are also still alive.
The pair won the final two sets in tiebreakers against Cassandra Long and Mallory Sturdevant of Harrisonville, winning the match 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5).
Johnson and Lawson play Connor Cassity and Caroline Greenberg of Clayton in today’s semifinal.
The Forsyth pair entered state at 22-3, and had been used to making quick work of opponents. So outlasting an opponent was something new.
“It seemed like four hours,” Lawson said. “But for some reason tiebreakers work well for us.”
When it got tough, the pair looked at their wristbands, on which they wrote their new slogan: “Will beats skill.”
“I just found it,” Johnson said. “And it’s worked. It’s gotten us this far.”