The Highland girls tennis doubles team of senior Kirsten Plocher and sophomore Kate Feldmann had a good showing after going 3-2 and advancing to the fourth round of the consolation bracket at the IHSA Class 1A Girls State Tennis Tournament on Thursday and Friday in the suburbs of Chicago.
“I had so much fun with Kate this weekend, and I’m so blessed to have so many people rooting for us,” Plocher said. “We played some of our best tennis these past few matches and put up a good fight against some very solid teams. I’m proud of our performance and enjoyed meeting and playing against new competitors. I’m excited to see what all the girls are going to do with next year’s season, because it seems as though we keep getting more girls coming out and putting in more work each season. I wish them the best of luck next season.”
Plocher and Feldmann played their five matches in a day and a half Thursday and Friday.
“Kate and Kirsten would finish their season playing five matches in the state tournament. That is a lot of tennis in just over a day, and I think it will be a great memory for those two,” Highland coach Matt Pellock said.
The Highland duo competed in three matches Thursday. First, Plocher and Feldmann overmatched Elizabeth DeYoung and Caylynn Townes, from Illiana Christian in Lansing, Illinois, 6-0, 6-0.
Next, the Lady Bulldog tandem fell to Chicago Payton’s Andra Giurgia and Sophie Ishiwari by the final scores of 2-6, 2-6.
The loss relegated the Highland pair to the consolation bracket, where the twosome rebounded to overcome a first-set loss and outlast Champaign Central’s Diana Golmeeva and Grace Redden, 1-6, 6-2, 10-3.
Then on Friday morning in the third round of the consolation bracket, Plocher and Feldmann scored a straight-set win over Morton’s Laynie Laktas and Ashley Mohr, 6-3, 6-2.
Pellock said the duo played their best complete match of the season.
“Extremely clean hitting that pressured Morton into errors and easy shots for us at the net,” he said. “A really terrific serving effort from Kirsten that was fun to see.”
In their final match in the consolation’s fourth round, Plocher and Feldmann battled long and hard before finally succumbing to Alex Arenson and Caroline Lommer of Winnetka North Shore Country Day, 7-6 (3), 0-6, 4-10.
“Kirsten and Kate were able to take advantage of some unforced errors in the first set that kept the first set tight and got us a tiebreaker win,” Pellock said. “Kirsten lost a long serving effort in the first game of the second set that would then take off for Winnetka and win a 6-0 second. Again, to start the tiebreaker, the Winnetka team matched a high level first point and seemed to grab momentum that we could not get back.”
Going 3-2 at state left Plocher and Feldmann with an impressive 25-6 record this season in doubles competition.
“Those two had a really incredible and historic doubles season,” Pellock said. “That run would also conclude with a total of nine state matches played for Kirsten, quite a mark and testament to what an excellent tennis player she has become.”
Sophomore Taylor Fleming and senior Mia Walters competed in singles for Highland.
Fleming started her day on Thursday battling a fever and cough, but found a way to manage it.
Fleming won her first match after prevailing in a three-setter over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Valeria Pozo, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
“She played a steady opponent, so it required patient tennis and well-executed shots to win points,” Pellock said of Fleming’s first-round win. “That was a big win, because it was a main draw win which earns two points.”
Fleming then fell in defeat in back-to-back matches later in the day, first losing to Kanelane Maple Park’s Piper Schrepferman, 1-6, 2-6 before being defeated by Normal University’s Amaya Fernandes, 1-6, 0-6.
“A couple losses after that first round match, but Taylor had a remarkable season and this was an experience that she can build on for her junior season,” Pellock said.
Walters drew a 5-8 seed in her first match which was an unfavorable draw. She lost both of her matches but making it to state is a great way to end her Highland tennis career.
“(It was) another tough match in her consolation draw, but very few singles players from our nearby sectionals got wins,” Pellock said. “The singles players in the state tournament were very strong, and she was in a tough part of the draw. (It was) a great experience for her to be apart of the tournament and end a great season.”