Highland’s Ashlyn Deluca prepares her backhand during the Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament last week.
For the News Leader
A strong final two weeks of the regular season and strong finish in the Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament last weekend could help make the Highland girls tennis team a potent entry for next week’s Class 2A sectional tournament.
Highland (12-5) finished off a productive last half of September by beating conference rival Jerseyville 7-2 at home last Monday (Oct. 1).
“The conference [schedule] we finished up against Jerseyville and lost at our six singles spot and lost a close one at three doubles,” Highland coach Matt Pellock said. “Everywhere else, we did really well [in the match].”
Singles winners for the Bulldogs included Katie Feldman at number two singles winning (6-2, 6-4) over Chelsea Maag over Jerseyville, Ashllen Deluca winning at number 4 singles over Holli Roberts of Jerseyville (6-2, 6-3), and Sydney Basler at number 5 singles took down Jerseyville Aubrey McCormick (6-2, 6-1).
At No. 2 singles Ashley Baisden had the match of the day, as she battled through a super tiebreaker to win her match 11-9. “That was a really long one,” said Pellock. “It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes.”
In the doubles flights the Bulldogs did well also. Feldman and Taylor Fleming downed Hannah Hudson and Chelsea Maag (6-3, 6-4) to take the number one doubles and then at number two doubles Deluca and Baisden teamed up to beat the Panthers duo Maura Roth and Libby Eads (6-1, 6-1).
Fleming at No. 1 singles, Feldman at No. 2 singles, and Deluca at No. 3 singles, have been the core of the Bulldogs lineup and have almost two years of match experience after having started as sophomores.
Baisden, Basler, and Hannah Geest fill out the rest of the singles flights to give the Bulldogs a rotation that can be successful each time out of the court.
“We have pretty much everyone that I’ve got playing [now] has played for a couple of seasons,” Pellock said. “Taylor, Kate, and Ashley were all varsity players last year and Taylor and Kate were state qualifiers the year before, so having them at the top really helps our team.”
The Bulldogs racked up five straight wins in the final three weeks of the regular season to enter last weekend’s conference tournament at home and Triad on a solid roll.
Highland fared well in the conference tournament on Saturday (Oct. 4) with a second place finish in the tournament. Triad finished first to take the tournament championship.
“I think the sectional is probably going to be tight and Flora and Olney are going to be in our sectional, so it will be interesting to see how we match up with them,” Pellock said.
After a regular season final meet against Althoff on Tuesday, the Bulldogs will head to the Class 2A sectional tournament in Centralia on Friday.