The Highland High School girls tennis team had a really good first two weeks of the season, capped off by winning its own Highland Doubles Invitational.
First on Wednesday, Aug. 30, the Lady Bulldogs blanked visiting Hillsboro 9-0.
Twenty four hours later, the season-opening win was followed by an 1-8 loss to visiting O’Fallon.
Next on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1 and 2, Highland went 3-1 at the Heather Bradshaw Invitational, which was hosted by Edwardsville High School last weekend.
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Then Highland split a couple of home dual matches in as many days after blanking Greenville on Tuesday, Sept. 5 before falling 2-5 to Alton on Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Finally on Saturday, the Bulldogs captured the championship of their own Highland Doubles Invitational.
Highland Doubles invite
Each of Highland’s five doubles teams finished first place in their flight and overall, all five pairings ended up going undefeated for the day at 20-0.
The Bulldogs also some of their JV girls fill in some spots for Vandalia that were without a fifth doubles team, and those girls got some wins as well.
“It was great playing from the team, and some clutch playing too,” Highland coach Matt Pellock said. “Seeing Hillsboro and Greenville already this season definitely helped the confidence. Two early Centralia matchups at 4 and 5 doubles were big matches for us, that both came down to winning a couple games at the end of the sets.”
At No. 4 doubles, Madison Clarke and Destany Morland were down and then grabbed the final couple games for an 8-6 win. At the fifth doubles spot, Abby Bowers and Mallory LaFrance got up quick 4-1, but after Centralia got it back to even at 5-5, the duo needed a good run finish with a 8-5 win.
Kirsten Plocher and Kate Feldmann dropped only five total games in the first doubles flight.
“The pace of shot from Kirsten was too tough for the teams they faced,” Pellock said. “Her shots set up Kate often, and Kate placed volleys well. It was some very routine points from them and think they showed nice focus the whole day.”
Taylor Fleming and Mia Walters had a dominant day as well.
“I think their best complete match was against Centralia getting the 8-2 win,” Pellock said. “Centralia played some good doubles, but we did not let them hit easy shots at the net with both Taylor and Mia keeping their shots high and deep, which really ended up giving us great looks to attack for many net opportunities.
Pellock said Ashley Basden and Arianna Kampwerth had no problems issues during their four wins, looking more experienced than the other teams in their flight.
Highland 9, Greenville 0
The Bulldogs won all nine matches in a commanding straight sets as no player lost more than three games and that was only one set out of the 18 total sets played. All 17 others were either 6-0, 6-1 or 6-2.
Dominating in singles were Plocher (6-1, 6-0), Fleming (6-3, 6-1), Feldmann (6-2, 6-1), Kampwerth (6-1, 6-1), Walters (6-0, 6-0) and Basden (6-0, 6-1).
Coasting to wins in doubles were Plocher and Feldmann (6-1, 6-0), Fleming and Walters (6-2, 6-0), and Basden and Kampwerth (6-1, 6-0).
Alton 5, Highland 2
Highland won one match in each singles and doubles. Kampwerth was victorious at No 4 singles in straights sets at 6-4, 6-3 while Clarke and Morland were successful at No. 2 doubles in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
Heather Bradshaw invite
Highland finished in ninth place in the middle bracket of the tournament hosted by Edwardsville. New Trier beat the Bulldogs 4-1, but Highland bounced back to score a 5-0 win over Effingham, a 3-2 victory over Mascoutah and a 4-1 triumph over Belleville East.
“With the tough first round match, ninth was really the best result we could hope for,” Pellock said. “Not a big deal where you finish in this, since we get the opportunity to play four teams no matter what, and we played well against all our teams.”
New Trier 4, Highland 1
In a tough first-round match for the Bulldogs, the two teams split the two singles matches, with Plocher overwhelming her opponent 6-2, 6-1.
New Trier swept all three doubles matches, with Kampwerth and Walters putting up the toughest battle after taking the match the full distance of three sets before finally bowing, 5-7, 6-4, 6-10.
“It was a tough first round match,” Pellock said. “This was the third team from New Trier, with their other two teams in the top-16 section of the tournament. New Trier would end up as the eventual champion in our bracket. I thought we played some good tennis against them and had some chances at 1 and 2 doubles that could have flipped the result. (Plocher) had another solid singles performance.”
Highland 5, Effingham 0
The Bulldogs swept both singles matches and all three doubles matches, and did so in straight sets.
In singles, Kampwerth defeated her foe 6-2, 7-5 while Morland swung by her challenger, 6-4, 7-5.
“Arianna (Kampwerth) had a nice win at 1 singles against a player with some very good ability,” Pellock said. “Arianna played smart and took advantage of some missed shots by Effingham late in the sets that got us the win. Destany (Morland) played a long two-setter as well. She gets to a lot of shots and can control her swings well on the run.”
Winning in doubles action were Plocher and Fleming (6-2, 6-4), Walters and Feldmann (6-1, 6-1), and Basden and sophomore Madison Clarke (6-1, 6-0).
“Doubles were really strong,” Pellock said. “Plocher and Fleming had a run in the first set that was about as good of doubles as I have seen. And our two and three doubles were very much the more experienced team and had some very quick games.”
Highland 3, Mascoutah 2
Mascoutah won both of the singles matches, but Bulldogs bounced back to take all three of the doubles matches.
At No. 1 doubles, Plocher and Feldmann gave up just game in a commanding 6-1, 6-0 victory, while Walters and Basden dominated to the tune of 6-1, 6-1.
Mascoutah defaulted in the third doubles match.
“(Plocher) and (Feldmann) played a superb two sets of doubles,” Pellock said. “Extremely clean hitting with few errors, and it was fun to watch them fly through that match. Mascoutah had to really press and force tough shots, which included quite a few errors. (Walters) and (Basden) were very strong with a good combination of depth on shots and then (Walters) does a great job of directing volleys at her opponents so they cannot get in position to react.”
Highland 4, Belleville East 1
The Bulldogs swept all four singles matches and split the two doubles matches.
“This was Belleville’s second team in the tournament,” Pellock said. “We decided to play a little different format in the last round so that more players could get an opportunity to play singles.”
Victorious in singles for Highland were Plocher (6-2, 6-0), Feldmann (7-5, 6-0), Basden (6-4, 6-2) and freshman Abby Bowers (6-2, 6-4).
“Belleville East had some nice players at the top of their lineup,” Pellock said. “Another win for Kirsten (Plocher) and that made her 4-0 for the weekend. Our singles players all got wins which was fun to watch. Kate (Feldmann) had a great finish to her match. She is finding her game more and more every match and showed how great a competitor she is this tournament. (Basden) was solid again playing 3 singles, and then very exciting to see Abby play through some long deuce games to get a tournament singles win for us.”
At No. 2 doubles, Kampwerth and Morland won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Highland 9, Hillsboro 0
The Bulldogs did not drop a set en route to sweeping all six of the singles matches.
“I thought we had a really solid performance by our varsity for our first match,” Pellock said. “A reall good sign for the first match was that we focused well and kept our shots in play.
Winning dominantly in singles were Plocher (6-1, 6-0), Fleiming (6-4, 6-1), Feldmann (6-0, 6-1), Kampwerth (6-3, 6-2); Walters (6-0, 6-0), Basden (6-2, 6-0).
Winning easily in doubles were Plocher and Feldmann (8-4), Fleming and Basden (8-2), and Walters and Kampwerth (8-4).
O’Fallon 8, Highland 1
Walters scored the Bulldogs’ lone victory at the fifth singles slot after besting Zoie Howard 6-4, 6-3.
Every other Highland player fell in defeat in straight sets.
“I definitely thought we competed well,” Pellock said. “O’Fallon has a strong top four players, and Mia (Walters) and Ashley (Basden) had some better matchups at 5 and 6 singles. Mia won at 5, and did some great work at lengthening rallies that resulted in overhitting from O’Fallon. She hustled consistently to get extra shots back in play and that paid off for her. Ashley had a tall opponent and made it tough to get the ball by her when she came forward in the point.”