With a record five participants at the state tournament, today was a banner day for the Republic tennis program before play even started. But the Lady Tigers didn’t stop there.
Led by Elsie Crawford’s performance in the singles bracket, Republic posted its best day ever on the sport’s big stage. The Lady Tigers won four matches – two by Crawford, one by doubles team Sedalia Shumaker and Morgan Lewis, and one by doubles team Abby McCord and Wrigley Cook. Crawford’s two wins earned her a spot in the second day of competition and guaranteed her a state medal – the first ever for Republic.
Shumaker and Lewis, in winning their first match, became the first doubles team from Republic to advance to the state quarterfinals. McCord and Cook rebounded from a first-round loss to win a consolation match. Both doubles teams were eliminated in the second consolation round. That puts them in a ninth-place tie – the highest finishes ever in doubles for Republic.
“It’s just really exciting – first, to have so many kids there, then to have a competitive squad, even at the state level,” coach Dan Vales said of his team’s state performance. “They feel a little validation for all the work they’ve put in. It’s really neat to see as coaches.”
Crawford assumed the competition at state would be overwhelming. That assumption lasted until she stepped onto the court for her first match.
“I pictured a player who was going to just cream me,” she said. “Then we started warming up, and I realized I could hit with her, and I felt confident.”
In fact, it was Crawford who dominated her opening-round match, winning in straight sets and sparking Republic’s first-ever run to the state medal rounds. Crawford dropped her second-round match, but rebounded to win again, securing a medal and a place in the top eight when play resumes again tomorrow morning.
After losing in the quarterfinals, Crawford thought she was out of medal contention until a friend told her before her consolation match that she was still in the running. She coolly won the first set of that match, but felt the pressure in the second.
“After I won my first set, I was like, ‘Okay Elsie, breathe, calm down, you can do this.’ She came out really strong in the second set, and that’s when I got a little nervous. I had to remind myself, ‘You already won the first set. You can do this.”
Crawford won that match 6-1, 6-3, setting up her opportunity in the medal rounds Friday.