For just the second time in school history, the Lafayette Lancers are going to compete in the Class 2 state high school girls tennis tournament.
The Lancers first qualified as a team for state in 2011. Lafayette finished third.
The 43rd annual state team tournament is Thursday (Oct. 12). Admission is $8 per day.
The Lancers (18-2) meet Springfield Central (15-4-1) at 9 a.m. in a semifinal. In the other semifinal, Lee’s Summit West (15-4) meets three-time defending state champion Rock Bridge (22-1) at the same time. The two winners will play for the state title at 1 p.m. The third-place match takes place at the same time.
Lafayette advanced to the state tournament by defeating Mehlville 5-0 in the sectional last Saturday morning. In the quarterfinal, the Lancers stopped St. Joseph’s Academy 5-4 later that day.
It was an big moment for his team, first-year coach Michael Schaaf said.
“The girls were all crying with positive emotion,” Schaaf said.
After taking over the program when Donna Stauffer stepped down after 23 years at the helm, Schaaf said he believed the Lancers could reach state this season.
“I told the team and parents from the beginning that state was possible to get there and also win,” Schaaf said. “All the girls put in a lot of hard work and determination this year. Our depth got us through to state.”
The Lancers took care of business against Suburban West Conference foe Mehlville in the sectional.
“They got the job done against Mehville like we talked about,” Schaaf said. “I expected the St. Joe’s match would be a hard fought battle.”
Plus there was a problem with rain. The weather forced the quarterfinal to be moved from Lafayette to Sunset Hills Tennis Club.
His girls were upset about the move, Schaaf said.
“They didn’t like having to move to Sunset because we lost our home court advantage,” Schaaf said.
However, the Lancers prevailed with a 5-4 win over the Angels.
The Lafayette wins against St. Joseph’s came at No. 2 doubles by Lauren and Meagan Ferguson, and in singles from Erin Davis, Laney Tvrdik, Nina Ruan and Keeley VanAntwerp.
The win by VanAntwert, a junior transfer from Cor Jesu, over St. Joseph’s freshman Abby Thurmer was the fifth and decisive win. It gave the match and a trip to state to Lafayette.
“Keeley played good especially coming of an injury and having lost to Thurmer during the regular season,” Schaaf said.
The Bulldogs of Springfield Central are next in the Final Four. It’s a fresh foe for Lafayette.
“We don’t know a lot about the Bulldogs but it will a good match though,” Schaaf said.
The winner likely will have to face powerful Rock Bridge. the Bruins have won state in each of the last three years.
“It will be a tough road to win state but my team can 100 percent win the title,” Schaaf said.
The state singles and doubles play then begins play Friday and ends Saturday. One Lancer will be competing in this part of the state meet.
Davis, a sophomore, will compete in singles for the Lancers. Davis, who defeated Marquette’s Ellie Lewis in the Class 2 District 4 singles championship match, stopped Katie Nguyen, of Nerinx Hall, 6-0, 6-1, to win the sectional held at the Creve Coeur Racquet Club to advance to state.
The singles bracket has not been announced.
Schaaf believes Davis can make a deep run in the singles bracket.
“Erin pulled off a huge win against Ellie to get the No. 1 seed (at sectional),” Schaaf said. “She played a stellar match against Katie. Erin didn’t give her any room to breath. Erin can make a deep run for the title, she might be short and petite in stature but that’s why I call her ‘Little Beast.’ ”
Besides Davis, here are the other local singles and doubles players who will be competing at state.
Caleigh McClain, of MICDS.
Maria Brandt and Elizabeth Goldstein, of Incarnate Word Academy.
Janel Dean, of Parkway North.
Ellie Lewis, of Marquette.
Megan Moore and Emily Xu, of Parkway South.
Abby Thurmer and Shannon Sims, of St. Joseph’s Academy.
Lexi Woodman and Morgan Kane, of St. Joseph’s Academy.
Giselle Krikorian and Sishika Hegde, of Parkway North.