It’s probably a good thing that CeCe Givens is now paired up Taylor Johnston — and not sister Lucy — after a championship-round defeat at the Springfield Invitational Tennis Tournament.
“If Lucy and I would’ve played this match and lost, it would’ve been rough because then we have to go home together,” CeCe said after the Branson duo took second in the doubles competition at Cooper Tennis Complex.
The team of Givens and Johnston breezed into the finals before coming up just short of gold, fighting off seven match points before falling to Columbia Rock Bridge’s Sophi Farid and Allison Baker 8-3 in the championship match.
“We’re proud of the way we played in the end of that match,” Johnston said. “We just started playing well too late.”
“And we know it wasn’t because we couldn’t beat them,” Givens added. “We were beating ourselves. That’s a good thing to know.”
The Givens sisters won the Springfield Invitational last year, and though CeCe enjoyed her time playing with Lucy — who has since graduated — she and Johnston have made a formidable team.
“Lucy is awesome, but playing with a sister is very difficult. Very stressful,” CeCe said. “You no longer feel that boundary, like I don’t want to be mean. You just automatically say ‘That was your fault.’ It’s a lot harder to play with her than it is with Taylor.”
Givens and Johnston could’ve passed for sisters in the way they finished each other’s sentences. They have discovered great chemistry on the court that has them in position to make noise in next month’s Class 2 District 11 Tournament.
“Each match we’ve realized more and more things we can work on,” said Johnston. “In between matches we go hit and work on those things that aren’t necessarily strong points. It’s really showed us that we need to focus.”
Parkview’s Abbey Belote carried the flag for Springfield singles players, moving on to the finals before wearing down against Rock Bridge’s Phoebe Boeschen, 8-1.
“I think I played pretty well today,” Belote said. “I started off pretty strong, but I think around the middle of the day I was able to get in my groove. But by the end it’s hard to stay in your groove and not get tired at the same time.
Belote, who is undefeated playing No. 1 singles for Parkivew, has eyes set on qualifying for state in her senior season, and the Springfield Invitational is a great place to start gearing up for that goal.
“It’s in the state environment,” said Belote. “This is where state is, where conference is, so this helps me get in the mindset for postseason.”
Rock Bridge cruised to the team title, with 47.5 points, with Kickapoo (23.5). Branson (22), Rogersville (19.5) and Central (16) rounding out the top five in the 23-team field.
But though Rock Bridge dominated the team results, there were plenty of stellar performances by Ozarks athletes. Kickapoo’s Mandy Schmidt and Meghan Zengel finished fourth, dropping a 9-8 (7-4) decision to Rock Bridge’s Hannah Pohl and Ronni Farid in the third-place match.
Rogersville’s Kristen Young was fourth in singles.