East doubles duo set to chase a big finish

News-DemocratOctober 17, 2013 

The 2013 girls tennis season hasn't been an easy one for the Belleville East Lancers or coach Ross Peters.

Expected to be a power in the Southwestern Conference, the Lancers' hopes were stymied before their first match when two of their top four singles players were lost for the season with health-related issues.

But throughout it all, the Lancers' top doubles team of seniors Savannah Martin and Rebecca McIsaac have remained consistent.

"They have played very well all season. They are both power players and when they are on their games, they're fun to watch and tough to beat,'' Peters said. "The good thing is that they've played together and they know what it takes to be successful at the state level.

"They finished in top 24 at state last year and I know they are better players now. If they would happen to play their best in the next two week,, they could do well at the state tournament.''

The team of McIsaac and Martin, along with many other top metro-east players, will begin their postseason journey today, when they compete in the O'Fallon Sectional.

Play begins at 1 p.m. today and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Singles player Sophie Von Hatten is the Lancers' other top hope to advance to the state tournament, which takes place Oct. 24-26 in the Chicago suburbs.

The top four finishers in both singles and doubles at the sectional advance to state.

While Martin and McIsaac are the favorites in the doubles competition, Belleville West probably has the best singles player south of Springfield in junior Kayleigh Thurwalker and a top doubles team in seniors Gabi Papachrisanthou and Blair Hollenbeck.

Undefeated in Southwestern Conference play, Thurwalker capped a superb regular season Monday, when she defeated Edwardsville sophomore Callaghan Adams 6-1, 6-1 to win the No. 1 singles title at the Southwestern Conference Tournament.

"Kayleigh has had a great season and she's at the top of her game right now,'' West coach Jenny Mennerick said. "I'm anxious to see where she will be seeded for the state tournament. The way she is been playing, I think she should do very well.''

A first-year coach, Mennerick also has high hopes that the Maroons will win the sectional team championship.

O'Fallon, led by Tori Lindsay and MacKenzie Shelton, figures to be the only team deep enough to challenge Belleville West for the team title.

"We hope to get all six of our players through to the state tournament,'' Mennerick said. "If that happens, I would think we'd have a good chance of winning the sectional tam title.''

Althoff's hopes will be led by the trio of Mica Soellner, Madelyn Skinner and Emma Melichar.

Alton Sectional

Times: Friday at 1 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m.

Local teams: Marquette, Alton, Civic Memorial, Edwardsville, Metro East Lutheran, Granite City, Jerseyville, Roxana, Triad and Wood River

Team favorites: Edwardsville, Triad

Top players: Callaghan Adams, Mallory Abert, Maddie Lombardi, Emma Lipe, Edwardsville; Lexi McCarthy, Triad.

Synopsis: Led by Adams, Edwardsville is a huge favorite to win its 17th straight sectional title.

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