Mother Nature was a bit more hospitable over the past week, and the O’Fallon Township High School girls tennis team took advantage of the opportunity.
After pounding Granite City in Southwestern Conference action, the Lady Panthers duplicated the feat in their most recent league match-up, whitewashing Collinsville 9-0.
The recipe for victory over the Kahoks included the same ingredients as the local netters employed against the Warriors, a dominating effort in singles play and an equally strong effort in doubles competition.
O’Fallon’s number one singles player, Mackenzie Shelton, dropped just two games in a two-set sweep over Jennaka Cain — setting a precedent for the rest of the afternoon.
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Katie Halwachs, Mady Shreiber, Miley Brunner, Kate Macaluso and Grace Lindsay took care of their respective Collinsville adversaries in short order, each Panther player winning her singles battle by 6-0, 6-0 scores.
Brunner and Macaluso teamed up in number one doubles to continue O’Fallon’s dominating play, defeating Cain and Harris 6-1 and 6-0. Grace Lindsay and Mady Shreiber bettered the effort at No. 2 doubles with a straight set shutout over Burgess and Mask. Mackenzie Shelton and Katie Halwachs completed the OTHS sweep with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lexi Ludgate and Karalyn Mitchell.
The competition level increased significantly over the weekend when the OTHS girls traveled north to participate in the 16-team Bloomington Gold Invitational. Despite the stiff challenge, Coach Erin Thoman’s squad fared well, finishing third with 40 team points.
SWC rival Belleville East took the tourney title with 64 points followed closely by second place Normal Community with 63 points.
The Panthers were in the hunt for the team championship until the very end, fueled by a pair of first place finishes. Mackenzie Shelton and Katie Halwachs, playing No. 3 doubles, streaked to a 4-0 tournament record to claim first place in their division.
O’Fallon’s No. 2 doubles tandem of Grace Lindsay and Mady Shreiber ended their tournament run with a 3-1 mark and a third place finish.
The Lady Panthers’ No.1 doubles team of Miley Brunner and Kate Macaluso were 2-1 but were unable to advance any further in the back draw due to final matches being canceled due to weather conditions.
In singles play, Miley Brunner was the big winner for the OTHS squad.
Playing in the number four slot for the Panthers, Brunner charged through the preliminary rounds and completed the tournament with a perfect 4-0 mark to claim O’Fallon’s second championship.
Mady Shreiber (No. 3) and Grace Lindsay (No. 6) added important team points with third place finishes in their respective divisions — both players ended the competition with 3-1 records.
Kate Macaluso (2-2) placed fourth in No. 5 singles with Katie Halwachs (5th) and Mackenzie Shelton (6th) rounding out the scoring for the OTHS squad. “It was a big step up in competition level for our girls, and they responded well to the challenge,” said OTHS coach Erin Thoman.
“Winning a tournament title in Bloomington is a pretty big deal, so we were very pleased with the play of Brunner, Shelton and Halwachs. Actually, all of our girls turned in stellar performances in their respective divisions, allowing us to finish third overall in a tournament that showcases most of the major talent in the southern half of the state,” Thoman said.