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St. Joseph’s Academy wins seventh consecutive district team tennis championship, two doubles teams qualify for state

By: Warren Mayes

It was lucky No. 7 for the St. Joseph’s Academy Angels.

St. Joseph’s won its seventh consecutive district championship by defeating Ladue 9-0 to claim the Class 2 District 3 meet the Angles hosted.

“At the risk of sounding overconfident, I knew we’d be heavily favored to win,” St. Joseph’s coach Doug Smith said.

The scores revealed the Angels dominated their two district matches. St. Joseph’s also dispatched Nerinx Hall 9-0 in the district semifinal match.

“Ladue had a three-year run during which they inched past St. Joe from 2009 to 2011, but except for that, St. Joe has dominated its district for the last 25 years,” Smith said. “I just told them to take care of business as efficiently as possible so they’d still be fresh for the district’s individual competition.”

What Smith said he liked most in the district came when the girls enjoying seeing a freshman play well in her match.

“Even though it was far from the clinching match, the biggest excitement came from watching freshman Caroline Conaty win a third-set tiebreaker while subbing for our regular No. 6, freshman Megan Nguyen, who was out of the lineup with a strained hamstring,” Smith said. “It was the last match still playing, so all of her teammates were gathered along the sideline and ran to embrace Caroline afterward, then took lots of pics with the trophy.”

The district win was a continuation of a good season for the Angels. Smith is pleased with how his youngsters have performed on the court this fall.

The St. Joseph’s Academy celebrates winning the district team tennis championship.

“Our regular season was productive and satisfying. We kicked off our season with a trip to Chicago where we played four power programs and went 2-2 there, came home and finished a close second in Edwardsville’s annual Heather Bradshaw tournament to another Chicago power, New Trier,” Smith said. “Midseason, we trekked to Kansas City where we played Pembroke down to the wire before the Class 1 defending state champions eked out a 5-4 victory.

“We stayed and played the annual Pembroke Invitational which features a number of Kansas schools, and we finished a close second to Lee’s Summit West. After that, we beat local rival Lafayette 6-3 before taking a beating at the hands of the John Burroughs machine and finished at 16-5.”

The Angels will meet Lafayette again. The two teams will play in the Class 2 Sectional 2 meet. It is a rematch of the quarterfinal match from 2017 in which Lafayette won 5-4.

“St. Joe has long played very competitive matches with Lafayette and had usually won until a few years ago, but the Lancers enjoyed a little edge on us the last couple of years,” Smith said. “Last year they beat us to deny us another trip to state.”

Smith said Lafayette again has a good team. The Lancers are 13-2 heading into the sectional.

“This year’s edition of the Lancers is very similar to last year’s. They’re strong and deep,” Smith said. “We played them in mid-September and managed a 6-3 victory, but the matches were close and hard-fought. Four of the six singles were decided by third-set tiebreakers. Fortunately for St. Joe, the Angels won three of those, and in the end that was really the difference.

“But tiebreakers are such a crap-shoot that those results could go the other way next time.”

To move into the afternoon quarterfinal match, Smith said his girls must play well.

“The Angels need to be healthy on Saturday, and they all need to bring their ‘A’ game and be prepared to compete with intensity and determination,” Smith said. “The Angels are eager for the opportunity to return to state after having been thwarted each of the last two years.

“I’m sure they’ll all be a little nervous, but they should be highly motivated. ”

St. Joseph’s two doubles team have qualified for the state meet.

Freshman Elizabeth Choate and junior Alexis Woodman defeated their teammates junior Shannon Sims and junior Nancy Serafin 6-1, 6-0 to win the district championship.

In the sectional played at Parkway Central, Choate and Woodman scored a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Lafayette’s No. 2 team of Maya Martin and Lydia Koester to punch their ticket to state.

Sims and Serafin also will to state. They defeated Lafayette’s No. 1 team of Meghan Ferguson and Laney Tvrdik 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance.

“Both St. Joe teams advanced to play state in the individual competition,” Smith said.

No Angel will be playing in state singles.

St. Joseph’s freshman Heidi Gaertner lost to Kirkwood freshman Morgan McKinnis 6-0, 6-0 in the district championship match.

“Heidi is our No. 5, whereas Morgan is Kirkwood’s No. 1,” Smith said. “Although Heidi had ousted Kirkwood’s No. 2, Grace Runge, in the semis, Morgan was just too much for her.”

In the sectional singles match, Lafayette freshman Katie Ferguson defeated Gaertner 6-0, 6-0 to end her quest to reach state singles competition.

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