Each won twice in straight sets Friday to clinch top-4 finishes; CHS doubles entry of Chelsea Long and Kelly Westphal eliminated
(Friday night update)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. «» Sensational Chillicothe High School juniors Sydnie Whiteside and Ali Stephens clinched their second-straight Class 1 high school girls' tennis state tournament medals Friday and moved within one win each of playing each other for the state title.
Following up on decisive first-round wins late Friday morning, Whiteside and Stephens prevailed again in the quarterfinals late in the afternoon, but in decidedly – if not surprisingly – different manners.
Whiteside, CHS' top player, was rematched with Taylor Crawford of Marshall, with whom she had engaged in a 2:20 marathon match early in the season before completing a comeback from a 4-0 deficit to win 10-8.
The rematch was nearly as good, but once more Whiteside took firmer command the longer the match went on. Playing in the best-of-3-sets format, the Chillicothean measured Crawford 7-5 in the opening set, then closed out the match 6-2 to advance to Saturday morning's championship semifinal against Angeline Veronikis of long-time St. Louis private-school tennis power Mary Institute-Country Day School. The MICDS player blanked Emily Kroutil of Springfield Catholic 6-0, 6-0 in their quarterfinals match.
While Whiteside was outlasting Crawford, Stephens – CHS' No. 2 player, but owning a win over Whiteside this season – was cruising into the semis.
Stephens never let Warrensburg's McKayla Wells into their match, zipping to a 6-1, 6-2 triumph that earned her a spot in the title semifinals Saturday.
Stephens (26-3), twice beaten by her teammate and fellow state semifinalist, will clash with another St. Louis private school player, Brittany Green of Villa Duchesne, for the right to play for the state title. Green, like MICDS' Veronikis, cruised through her quarterfinal, 6-0, 6-1 over Kathryn Lundgren, the No. 3 singles player of team state champion Kansas City: Barstow. Barstow has its top two players in doubles at state.
Already assured of no worse than fourth place in the state this year after Whiteside claimed fifth and Stephens sixth a year ago, the pair of Chillicotheans could meet for a fourth time this season – either for the state championship or for third place Saturday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in east-central Springfield.
While Friday was spectacularly successful for CHS' singles entries, it was a very valuable, educational experience for the Lady Hornets' state doubles entry of Chelsea Long and Kelly Westphal.
Even though they were eliminated from the tourney in the minimum two matches, they battled hard in their consolation match and narrowly missed at least forcing it to a third set.
After dropping their opening-round match at midday, the tandem of sophomore Westphal and junior Long gave a fine account of themselves in the consolation bracket before succumbing to Emily Brown and Alissa Holthe of St. Louis: Lutheran South 6-7 (3), 5-7.
(Friday mid-ffternoon version)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. «» Chillicothe High School juniors Sydnie Whiteside and Ali Stephens, the only returning medalists from the 2012 Class 1 Missouri high school girls' state tennis tournament, moved within one win of their second state medals Friday morning with easy first-round victories.
Whiteside polished off Kathryn Shetley of Kennett 6-1, 6-0 to push her 2013 record to 29-2. Stephens was nearly as dominant, dispatching Emily McFarland of St. Louis: Lutheran North 6-2, 6-0 in quick fashion. Stephens takes a 25-3 season record into the quarterfinals.
Of Whiteside's and Stephens' five losses this season, three have been to each other – Whiteside has defeated her fellow Lady Hornet twice and Stephens has topped her teammate once.
In their quarterfinals matches later Friday, Whiteside was to rematch with Taylor Crawford of Marshall, while Stephens was to square off with McKayla Wells of Warrensburg.
The Whiteside-Crawford clash will pit opponents who played an epic regular-season match in Chillicothe Sept. 5. Crawford led that single-set (with pro-10 scoring) match 4-0 and again at 8-7 before Whiteside claimed the last three games and the match. With long rally after long rally, the 18-games duel lasted a whopping 2:20.
Should Whiteside and/or Stephens win their Friday afternoon/evening matches, they'd clinch at least a top-4 finish and another state medal. They also could medal if they lost their quarterfinals match, but won at least one consolation match Saturday, which was the route they each took to Whiteside's fifth-place and Stephens' sixth-place finish last year.
If Whiteside gets by Crawford, she might well have an easier match in Saturday's semifinals as either potential opponent was only a district runner-up. Should Stephens reach the title semifinals, she'd likely have to meet Kathryn Lundgren of team state champion Kansas City: Barstow. Lundgren played No. 3 singles (while Stephens was at No. 2 for CHS) when Barstow shut out Chillicothe 5-0 in team sectional play here last Saturday.
While Chillicothe's singles players at state both were winning their 2013 openers this morning, CHS' Midland Empire Conference-champions doubles entry of junior Chelsea Long and sophomore Kelly Westphal was being defeated 3-6, 1-6 in the first round by district champions Carly Hopkins and Reagan Kapp of Cape Girardeau: Notre Dame.
That pushed the Westphal/Long tandem into the consolation side of the bracket, in which they could potentially climb as far as a fifth-place finish. No listing of who their first opponents in the consolation bracket would be was available at the time of this posting.
With their state-debut defeat, Long and Westphal's season record as doubles partners unofficially dipped to 10-3.
Updates to the Chillicothe players' results in the state tennis tournament will be posted as soon as possible.