Acing the Postseason

Varsity Girls Tennis team continues to break school records



Gabby St. Jean throwing a serve.

After a challenging season, the Varsity Girls Tennis team entered the postseason with high hopes. As reigning Gateway Athletic Conference (GAC) champions and having qualified for state the previous year, the bar was set high for the girls going into GACs and the District Tournament.

At 7:30 on Monday morning, the girls boarded their bus and headed to Timberland for the first day of the tournament. There, the girls faced some of their toughest competition such as Timberland, Holt, Troy Buchanan, Francis Howell and Francis Howell Central.

“The top 12 players on the tennis team get to play in GAC’s,” varsity tennis player Gabby St. Jean said. “The first day of GAC’s is the doubles section where we play 8 games with AD [a type of scoring in tennis]. Each win moves you farther on the bracket. When we aren’t on the court, we are watching and cheering on others on our team or preparing ourselves to play. At the end of the day, first, second, & third place doubles winners are awarded their medals.”

The girls left the first day of GACs with seven medalists. Morgan Smith and Charlotte Reichensperger placed second while ranked as number two doubles, Gabby St. Jean and Sierra Ball placed third as number one doubles, Kathryn Wagner and Ivy Lesley also placed third as number five doubles, and Ashlynn Shults placed third as number eight singles.

“We played Howell Central [in the semi-finals] and it was better this time,” junior Morgan Smith said. “Last time [we played them] it was really back and forth and we barely beat them 8-6, and this time we just blew them out of the water. The score was 8-2”

The second day of GACs started at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and the top six players headed to Timberland to play singles. St. Jean as well as Charlotte Richensburger placed third.

“The second and final day of GAC’s is the singles portion,” St. Jean said. “In singles, we compete on our own to win, and advance through the tournament. At GAC’s, for singles, we played two sets of 6 games with a tie-breaker at 6-6. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were awarded their medals at the end of the day.”

Throughout the season, the girls have gotten to know some of their competition, so going into GACs, they had some idea of what they were getting into.

“A rivalry the team and I face at GAC’s is Timberland,” St. Jean said. “Timberland has a strong team overall, compared to other teams we play. I think the main challenge we face with playing the girls on the Timberland team is their style of play.”

Despite their challenging competition, the girls still fought their hardest and ended up placing third as a team.

“I think my biggest success was just being able to have fun,” senior Ashlynn Shults said. “It was a very stressful event considering [it was single elimination]. I was just proud of myself for staying happy the entire time.”

The following Friday, the top six girls went back to Timberland to participate in Individual Districts. Individual Districts give each single and doubles team the opportunity to go to state, regardless of how the team performs overall. St. Jean and Richensburger played singles, Ball played with Smith as the number one doubles team and Palmero and Endsley played as the number two.

“Even before the season had started, my focus was set on Individual Districts,” St. Jean said “I knew that this was my opportunity to make it to state. The top two singles and doubles matches go to state.”

After three tough matches, Ball and Smith placed third in doubles.

“It’s always super fun to play with Morgan because she’s good at staying patient and getting the ball back,” junior Sierra Ball said.

Last year, St. Jean went to state with alumni Kayleigh Leahy in doubles. It was the first time anyone on the girls tennis team went to state in school history. This year, St. Jean placed second in Individual Districts, which qualified her for state for the second year in a row.

“I was beyond excited because my focus, work ethic, and determination led me to qualify,” St. Jean said. “Last year, after being the first doubles team for the girls tennis team to go to state in school history, to now being the first girl to go to state for singles in school history is a big accomplishment that I am proud of.”