After learning a valuable but costly lesson against O’Fallon, the Belleville East Lancers turned right around gave a lesson— in singles — on Wednesday, as they clinched the Belleville city tennis championship.
Sophomore Isabel Burwitz and freshman Chloe McIsaac combined to lose only eight games in four sets in the top two singles flights and the rest of the Lancers finished a sweep of the singles competition, as East took an insurmountable 7-1 lead late in their annual city showdown with Belleville West at West High School.
After clinching its second straight and third city championship in four years, the Lancers and Maroons then split two doubles matches. The No. 3 doubles match between the Maroons’ Brianna Sexton and Jackie Sehr and Mary Zimmer and Kendall Patton of Belleville East was suspended by darkness and will be completed Thursday.
The win continues a roller-coaster week for East which won the Bloomington Gold Tournament on Saturday, but fell to a much-improved O’Fallon squad 5-4 in a Southwestern Conference match Tuesday.
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But on a near-perfect Wednesday afternoon, the Lancers were at their best in singles against a West team which was without two of its top six players.
“We learned a valuable lesson on Tuesday that in the Southwestern Conference you’ve got to be ready each match. I give O’Fallon credit. They are a good team and they were ready to play,’’ Lancers coach Ross Peters said. “I don’t know whether or not we took them lightly after we had beaten them in the tournament or what it was.
“But tonight from the first match on, in singles, we were ready and focused to play well and we did. From one through six, I thought we played very well.’’
Burwitz defeated Kaylie Comley 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles flight, while McIsaac defeated Keely Lougeay 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2. The Lancers also got straight-set wins from Rylan Lopez, Morgan Smith, Kaycie Dresch and Mary Zimmer.
The loss drops West to 5-4 for the season and while West coach Jenny Mennerick doesn’t like losing, there were a few bright momments.
Both Jackie Sehr (No. 5 singles) and Madison Kototovich (No. 6) took their Lancers opponents to third-set tiebreakers before falling. Comley and Ellen Binnion then combined for an impressive 6-1, 6-4 win over McIsaac and Burwitz in a battle of elite doubles teams in the No. 1 flight.
‘I was very pleassed at how Kaylie (Comley) and Ellen (Binnion) came out and played in doubles,” Mennerick said. “They were tenacious the way they played and I thought they communicated very well with each other very well.
“In singles I can’t fault our effort. I thought the girls played hard. East was just a little better than we were. We were without two of our top six in singles, which didn’t help our chances. But I thought the two girls who we had in stepped up and played well in what may have been their first varsity match.’’
Lopez and Dresch then made the score 7-1 when they defeated Lougeay and Kototovich 6-1, 6-4 in the No. 2 doubles flight.
But the city title was decided by the Lancers’ domination in singles.
“We’ve always been a tennis program which has focused more on doubles. We may have to rethink that after this week. We’ve played very well in singles at Bloomington and then tonight,’’ Peters said. “It’s great to win a city championship and when you do, you cherish them. I’m proud of this tennis team and the way we came out and played tonight. Hopefully we can build on this win.’’