Republic senior Carly McAtee still remembers last year’s district championship match against Joplin. The Lady Tigers lost their last three matches after building a 4-2 lead, and McAtee was on the court for the evening’s disappointing finale.
Wednesday night, she and her Republic teammates made sure the same thing didn’t happen again.
The Lady Tigers swept all three doubles matches against Webb City to take a commanding lead, then finished off the night with two quick wins in singles play to clinch the championship. The fifth and deciding victory was McAtee’s.
“It feels amazing, because last year in this position, I was the last match and I was the deciding match…and I lost,” McAtee said. “To end on my senior year, winning districts, that’s the best feeling.”
Elsie Crawford was first to finish her singles match, making the score 4-0 Republic. McAtee and Katie Stiles, both seniors, grabbed big leads in their matches, setting up a friendly race to determine who would clinch the title.
“We were kind of looking to see who’d finish first,” Stiles said.
It’s the first team district title for the Lady Tigers since they won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012 with two-time state qualifier Samantha Minor at the top of the lineup.
The district championship comes after a disappointing stretch in the middle of the season that included a disappointing loss to conference rival Willard, who rode its upset of Republic to an eventual regular-season COC championship.
“We had that disappointing match against Willard and we refocused, rebounded, and really just channeled our energy toward…peaking now, and I think we did,” said coach Dan Vales. “We really came out strong in doubles. [It was] maybe our best doubles match of the year.”
One key to the night was the doubles victory by Sedalia Shumaker and Abby McCord. They topped a Webb City duo who had beaten them last week at the Central Ozark Conference tournament.
Stiles, Shumaker, and Hannah Morgan were all leading when play was stopped. McCord was tied 4-4 in the second set after losing a first-set tiebreaker.
The Lady Tigers will compete in the individual district tournament Friday at Carthage. They’ll compete again as a team during state sectionals on Saturday, October 19, at Gillenwaters Tennis Complex in Springfield.
1. Crawford/Stiles d. Angelini/Smith 8-2
2. McAtee/Morgan d. Goldin/Ansley 8-4
3. McCord/Shumaker d. Hamilton/Allen 8-6
1. Crawford d. Angelini 6-2, 6-0
* 2. Stiles v. Goldin 6-4, 5-0
3. McAtee d. Ansley 6-0, 6-2
* 4. McCord v. Smith 6-7 (3-7), 4-4
* 5. Morgan v. Hamilton 6-3, 4-1
* 6. Shumaker v. Allen 6-4, 2-1