The Belleville East Lancers left for Bloomington early Friday morning hoping to repeat as champions of the Bloomington Gold Tennis Tournament. They returned around midnight on Saturday as one tired group of tennis players. But carrying the title trophy for the second year in a row.
Isabel Burwitz defeated highly-touted of Champaign Centennial to win the No. 2 singles division and teamed with Chloe McIsaac to take the No. 1 doubles crown as the Lancers nipped Normal Community for the team championship in prestigious 16-team event at Bloomington High School.
Still stinging after a 7-2 loss to Edwardsville earlier in the week, the Lancers fought through five hours of doubles play on Friday and nearly 10 hours of singles on Saturday to finish with 64 points, one more than Normal Community. East players advanced to at least the semifinals in all nine of the flights.
“This was without question the longest, most grueling and most gratifying tournament that I have ever been a part of,” a still tired East coach Ross Peters said on Monday. “We started doubles late Friday afternoon and because of the rain, didn’t finish until after 11 p.m. indoors.
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“Then we came back on Saturday and started singles about 9:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until after 7:30 p.m. We won the tournament last year but doubles was canceled and the girls didn’t get the full affects of being here. This one means much more.”
Burwitz, McIsaac pace the attack
McIsaac placed second in the No. 1 singles to Gloria Gonzalez of Champaign Centennial, while Burwitz won the No. 2 singles crown, 6-0, 6-1 over Madeline Skaggs of Champaign Centennial. McIsaac and Burwitz had beaten Skaggs and Gonzalez 6-4, 6-4 in the No. 1 doubles final on Friday.
“Gonzalez is an exchange student from Bolivia and a a very good player as is Madeline (Skaggs), but Isabel came out and just dominated the match,’’ Peters said. “Beating them in doubles was a big win for Chloe and Isabel because they had lost to them earlier in the season by I think, the same score — 6-4, 6-4.’’
Depth pays off for East
While McIsaac and Burwitz led the way, the Lancers other five players also won big matches. Starting with a second place finish from Carolyn Krieghauser and Lauren Buschur at No. 2 doubles, the Lancers got solid performances from up and down the lineup.
“That was quite an effort by Lauren and Carolyn because they weren’t playing their best,’’ Peters said. “But after winning their first match 10-6 in a third set tiebreaker, they fought all the way to the final.
“We won the tournament by one point. Every match we won was big. Every player contributed to this win.’’
Lauren Cowulich (No. 3 singles), Lauren Buscher (No. 4) and Kriegshauser (No. 5) all placed second in their singles flights while Maddie Buscher was fourth in the No. 6 singles division.