Highland: Sports

Girls Tennis: HHS splits pair of conference matches

Highland sophomore Kirsten Plocher hits a backhand.
Highland sophomore Kirsten Plocher hits a backhand. News Leader

The Highland high girls tennis team split a couple of Mississippi Valley Conference matches after rebounding from being edged 4-5 by Mascoutah on Sept. 29 and then blanking Civic Memorial 9-0 two days later.

After beating CM last Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs headed into Monday’s match at Jerseyville with a 2-2 record.

“The Jerseyville match is always important, and probably more so this season as we have both conference and sectional seeds to be decided on the outcome of this match,” Highland coach Matt Pellock said. “We will wrap up with Jerseyville before the conference tournament. With a win there combined with all the close matches we have had during the conference season, I know this team can have a successful tournament.”

Highland won all six singles matches and two of the three doubles matches easily in straight sets.

The six singles winners for the Lady Bulldogs were Kirsten Plocher, Stephanie Olivares, Beth Meadows, Liz Arend, Anjuli Kampwerth and Mallory LaFrance.

Winning in doubles for Highland were teams of Plocher and Meadows, Olivares and Meadows, and Kampwerth and Gutzler.

Meadows and Arend were victorious in singles in the defeat to Mascoutah, while the doubles tandems of Plocher and Meadows as well as Olivares and Arend were also successful for the Lady Bulldogs.

Pellock said that even though Highland did not get the team win, getting the four individual wins was important for seeding in the conference tournament.

“We have many players that have opportunities to be a top 3 seed and that will give the team a chance to compete for the conference,” he said. “A highlight in this match was the comeback win a two doubles that kept the team in the match with a chance to win. After a tough singles loss for Stephanie (Olivares) and a grueling long singles win for Liz, they both were able to focus at the right time and came back from 7-4 down in the eight-game pro-set, to win the next five games. After they won a couple games in a row, their level of play continued to improve and they were very efficient with executing their shots. I think that was really important for their mental psyche. They have been successful in doubles but needed that experience to help them remember they can win at any time.”

After an easy win at No. 3 singles, Meadows partnered up with Plocher for an important No. 1 doubles match.

“They played some very strong doubles to get a straight-set win,” Pellock said. “Mascoutah got up 4-0 in the second set, and Kirsten and Beth were able to win six straight games to close out the match. I definitely like seeing us able to get some come-from-behind wins from the top 4, showing some maturity and understanding to stay focused on winning points and not worried about the score.”

On Sept. 28, Highland dropped a 3-6 setback against Roxana, with four of the losses coming in super tiebreakers.

“Roxana has good depth and a strong No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles team that will be likely state qualifying favorites in our sectional,” Pellock said. “Encouraging about that is we played them very close. Kirsten (Plocher) played some of the best tennis of her young career in the singles match, even having an opportunity with some match points at the end. Then her and (Meadows) battled the returning state-qualifying doubles team of the Ballard sisters in a tight match that ended with Roxana closing out the last two games for a 5-8 loss. Anjuli (Kampwerth) had her second super tiebreaker victory of the year at 5 singles for us.”