Tennis coach Dan Vales knew when he saw the brackets for the Class 3 singles tournament that Elsie Crawford would face an uphill battle. The competition lived up to expectations, handing Crawford two losses in her first two matches and eliminating her from the tournament.
“All three girls around her (in the bracket) are rated four- or five-star on Tennis Recruiting. So these are players headed to Division I or II, most likely. We knew the competition would be fierce,” Vales said. “She probably got the hardest draw we’ve ever had a girl get at State.”
Crawford, who racked up a 23-2 singles record before Thursday, first met Khayli Buckels, a junior from Parkway South. Buckels (14-1 before Thursday) won in two sets. In the second match, freshman Sydney Fuger of North Kansas City (24-1 heading into the tournament) also won in straight sets.
Republic moved to Class 3 for the first time since MSHSAA expanded tennis to three classes two years ago. Because of a new “multiplier” that pushes private schools to higher classes when they’re successful, Class 3 is now home to the largest public school districts in St. Louis and Kansas City, plus the elite tennis programs among smaller private schools.
“To Elsie’s credit, she fought hard for every point she could get and had a good attitude,” Vales said. “That’s all you can ask for from a player.”
Crawford finishes her career as one of the best to ever play for Republic. She is the school’s only individual medalist – a medal she earned last year in Class 2 – and she was the #1 player on last year’s team, which is the only Republic team to make the state semifinals.