Sometimes, getting five players into the state tournament just isn’t enough.
The Lady Tigers swept Glendale 5-0 in the state quarterfinals Monday to earn Republic’s first-ever appearance in a team tennis final four. Glendale had beaten Republic earlier in the season, but the Lady Tigers were missing #1 singles player Elsie Crawford, forcing every other player to against a more difficult opponent.
Just a week ago, Republic claimed five of the six state tournament slots in its individual district tournament. Those five state qualifiers were already a program record. But this week, Republic took its success to a new level, moving into the team semifinals with seven players: Elsie Crawford, Jasmine Howard, Sedalia Shumaker, Abby McCord, Morgan Lewis, Mia Stan, and Wrigley Cook.
Despite the earlier loss to Glendale, coach Dan Vales said he liked his team’s chances going into Monday’s match.
“The last couple weeks, we’ve built up some momentum. We feel like we’ve been playing better and better tennis,” said coach Dan Vales. “We’d beaten Bolivar 7-2, which is a really good team. We felt like a different team than when we played last time. And we had Elsie back. That does have a domino effect on the order.”
Republic swept the doubles matches, and Vales said he and assistant David Smashey started feeling pretty confident when both Jasmine Howard and Sedalia Shumaker jumped ahead quickly to win their first singles sets.
Vales said some of his players hadn’t even realized a win would land them in the state semifinal, and that was by design. “We haven’t even sniffed close to that ever in our program history. Some of the girls didn’t even really have a full appreciation of the stakes of the match. We didn’t want them thinking about the fact this was a final four trip ,” he said.
Republic advances to play St. Pius X (Kansas City), which defeated Notre Dame de Sion 5-4. The state team semifinal is scheduled for October 23 at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
Elsie Crawford/Jasmine Howard defeat Lucy Huang/Chloe Stenger 8-2
Sedalia Shumaker/Morgan Lewis defeat Isabella Martino/Monroe Liggett 8-5
Abby McCord/Wrigley Cook defeat Ann Beatty/Lauren Hamm 8-6
Sedalia Shumaker defeats Monroe Liggett 6-2 6-3
Jasmine Howard defeats Isabella Martino 6-1 6-1
Matches involving Crawford, McCord, Lewis, and Mia Stan ended when Republic clinched.