Win all three dual matches in "pool" play, then claim top spots in Nos. 1 and 2 doubles and No. 2 singles in Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, Excelsior Springs Invitational

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — Yet to be defeated in nine dual matches this season, Chillicothe High School’s tennis Lady Hornets nearly-as-flawlessly capitalized on their first opportunity to be tournament champions Wednesday.
Competing in the Excelsior Springs Invitational, the Lady Hornets swept their three truncated (5-position) dual matches in “pool” competition, then captured three of their five cross-pool position-championship sets to earn the overall tourney crown.
Capturing position tourney titles were CHS’ Nos. 1 and 2 doubles entries – Hunter Keihley and Hannah Cypert in the top spot and sisters Gracy and Lucy Reeter in the second  – and No. 2 singles representative Hannah Zimmerman.
Finishing second were Macy Cavanah in No. 1 singles and No. 3 doubles pair Delaney May and Allison Ishmael.
The Chillicothe girls have no chance to rest on those laurels as they are right back on the court today, visiting Trenton, before trying to make up the Benton-Savannah Tournament at St. Joseph tomorrow. The Benton-Savannah event was postponed, due to weather, a couple of weeks ago and might face “iffy” conditions this time, as well.
At Excelsior Springs Wednesday, coach Amanda Marsh opted to enter the duos which normally are the Lady Hornets’ top two in doubles for dual matches in that category and got the maximum benefit.
Cypert/Keithley swamped their opponents from fellow “black” pool members Carrollton, Cameron, and Excelsior Springs with the loss of only three of 21 games.
Meanwhile, the Reeters were enjoying similar success, although they were challenged by Excelsior Springs’ entry before prevailing 6-4. They won 6-1 and 6-0 in their other two sets.
That put both Chillicothe tandems in the title match for their respective positions against the respective top finishers from the “gold” pool, both of whom turned out to be from Kansas City: Winnetonka.
In No. 1 doubles, the Keithley/Cypert combo dueled Winnetonka’s Halle Clapham and Lexi Birlingmaier and continued to dominate. CHS’ 2017 state-tournament qualifiers sailed past the KC school’s pair 6-1 to earn individual champion’s medals while boosting the team’s cause.
The CHS’ racqueteers’ senior-freshman sister act lined up against likely Winnetonka’s own siblings tandem of Grace and Bailee Cohalla. While not quite as one-sided as the No. 1 set, Chllicothe’s reps handled this Winnetonka tandem in clear-cut manner, 6-3, giving the Lady Hornets their second champions.
Over on the singles side of the 8-teams tournament, Zimmerman was making her own noise.
On the heels of 6-3, 6-2, and 6-4 victories in the “pool” portion of the event, she lined up across the net from Kearney’s Emily Shepherd to decide the No. 2 position crown. In a close clash, the Chillicothe 11th grader kept her poise and, winning the 10th game, claimed it 6-4 to make herself a tourney champion, too.
Cavanah, who plays No. 4 in singles in the CHS lineup, showed herself more than up to the task of competing in No. 1 singles at Excelsior Springs.
The junior sailed through her “pool” matches with only four lost games out of 22 played, qualifying her to take on Winnetonka’s Skyler Murphy for the No. 1 singles title.
In this instance, Murphy established the upper hand fairly early and pulled away to prevail 6-2, giving the Lady Hornet second place.
The No. 3 doubles play provided CHS sophomores May and Ishmael, regularly paired in junior-varsity doubles competition thus far in 2018, the chance to make their varsity debut as a combo.
They handled it like long-time veterans, blanking Excelsior Springs’ entry in their first set and besting Cameron’s 6-3 before receiving a forfeit from Carrollton, which lacked a No. 3 doubles entry.
That meant Ishmael/May had a crack at personal tournament titles in their first appearance, but it wasn’t to be. Taking on Kearney’s Samantha Schoenig and Erin Bradfield, the Lady Hornets duo lost 2-6 to settle for the runnerup showing.
With Wednesday’s three “pool” match triumphs, the Chillicothe squad improved to 12-0 in duals on the season.
Keithley and Cypert’s four triumphs lifted their still-perfect season record in doubles to 12-0. Cypert also is undefeated in singles at 8-0.
Cavanah’s loss in the singles finals was her first solo loss in 12 sets this fall.