O'Fallon: Sports

O’Fallon netters open season, finally

After several cancellations that wiped out their first week of competition, the OTHS girls’ tennis team finally opened the 2016 campaign this past week with a lopsided dual match victory over Highland and a fifth place finish in the Edwardsville Invitational. The two efforts gave coach Erin Thoman’s squad a 4-1 overall mark, a promising start to what the Lady Panthers hope will be an outstanding season.

The first week’s scheduled dual matches and the Champaign Centennial tournament were washouts for the local netters, but when they eventually did step onto the court last week they muzzled the Highland Bulldogs, 9-0.

The singles competition set the tone for the afternoon with the Panthers blasting their way to six consecutive victories. MacKenzie Shelton set the tone in No. 1 singles, smashing her way to a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Highland’s Beth Meadows. Katie Halwachs (No. 2) and Mady Shreiber (No. 3) followed suit with straight set victories over their Highland opponents. Miley Brunner, Katie Macaluso and Grace Lindsay finished one better than the top three OTHS players – each winning straight set matches without losing a single game.

The doubles results completed the OTHS whitewash. Brunner and Macaluso teamed up to trounce Meadows and Anjali Kampwerth 6-0 and 6-0. The barrage continued with another shutout victory posted by Grace Lindsay and Mady Shreiber. Mackenzie Shelton and Katie Halwachs made it a perfect day with a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of Mia Walters and Ariana Kampwerth.

The Lady Panthers faced a tougher task over the weekend in the Edwardsville Invitational. Despite the step up in competition, Thoman’s squad produced respectable results, winning three of their four matches in the two-day event. O’Fallon began the tournament on a positive note, cruising past Prairie Ridge 4-1. Missouri power St. Joseph’s Academy was the Lady Panthers’ adversary, and the perennial power unleashed a blistering attack that resulted in a 5-0 O’Fallon loss.The O’Fallon girls did not allow the setback to spoil their weekend, however. After the St. Joseph shutout, the local netters bounced back immediately to post a 4-1 victory over the Carbondale Terriers. The Lady Panthers continued their winning ways in the tournament finale against Chatham-Glenwood. Again relying on solid serving and strong serve and volley games, O’Fallon gained early advantages and finished off Chatham 4-1 to secure fifth place.

“Each of our players did a good job of putting herself in a position to win the matches,” Thoman said. “We were playing at a bit of a disadvantage since our competitions were cancelled during the first week; however, we relied on them to keep their focus and competitive edge, and they came through in four of the five face-offs.”

The OTHS girls will try to build on their positive start to the 2016 season with matches scheduled against Mascoutah and Centralia this week before they host the O’Fallon Quad this Saturday..