Playing in the most important matches on the biggest stage Illinois high school girls tennis has to offer, Althoff seniors Emma Melichar and Madelyn Skinner responded like champions in suburban Chicago Friday.
And so did the Edwardsville Tigers’ top doubles combination of Grace Desse and Morgan Colbert.
Taking on South Seven Conference rivals Niusha Daneshdoost and Arina Martin of Carbondale in the Class 1A state tournament quarterfinals, Melichar and Skinner posted a hard fought 7-5, 6-3 win to move within two matches of a state championship.
With the lightning quick Melichar covering the court with poise and experience and Skinner being a force at the net, the Crusaders pair continues to make the most of their trip to the state finals as they moved into a 9 a.m. semifinal match against Maddie Bauer and McCoy Hutchison of Joliet Catholic on Saturday.
“We’re super excited to be in the state tournament semifinals. The girls keep meeting every challenge and today was no exception,” first-year coach Brian Zaron said. “Emma played great and Madelyn (Skinner) just continued to pick her game up and take it to another level. She was amazing at the net today.
“The state tournament quarterfinals are a different game because you have line judges and an umpire calling out the score after every point. Not to mention a big crowd watching every point and the fans are right on top of you. I was so impressed at how Madelyn and Emma handled themselves today.”
While Melichar and Skinner advanced to the semifinals, Triad senior singles player Kylie McCarthy dropped a round of 16 match to Caroline Arnold of Lisle Benet Academy 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. The loss, only McCarthy’s second of the season, pushed her into the consolation bracket where she won on Friday afternoon. McCarthy will play a consolation match on Saturday morning and could place as high as fifth.
Bowing out of tournament play on Friday were Kirsten Plocher and Elisabeth Meadows of Highland and Mary Nester and Olivia Melichar of Althoff.
Desse and Colbert win two close matches
Taken to third-set marathons twice on Friday, Grace Desse and Morgan Colbert of Edwardsville aren’t only standing, they are two matches away from a Class 2A state tennis title in doubles.
After outlasting Sara Amano and Nidhi Jha of Barrington 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, Colbert and Desse rallied from a set and 2-0 deficit to defeat Michelle Capone and Amia Ross of New Trier in the quarterfinals to move into the state doubles semifinals on Saturday.
The Southwestern Conference champions, Colbert and Desse will take on Erika Oku and Megan Guenther of Hinsdale Central at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“When you talk about Barrington, New Trier and Hinsdale Centralm you are talking about three of the top programs in the state with great tradition in girls tennis,” Tigers coach David Lipe said. “To be able to beat a team from those programs is an accomplisment in itself.
“I told the girls a couple of days ago that there would be a time in the tournament when you would be behind. How you responded to that momment would be the defining point of your state tournament. Down a set and behind 2-0 in the second set and be able to come back and win the match says a lot for the types of people and athletes these girls are.”
Bowing out of the Class 2A state tournament on Friday was Edwardsville sophomore Natalie Karibian.