Three Lady Owls earn state medals
SPRINGFIELD -- The Marshall girls' tennis team left Springfield on Saturday with the most hardware in years.
The Lady Owls came away with three medals during the two-day MSHSAA Class 1 Individual Championships in the Cooper Tennis Complex. Sophomore Taylor Crawford set a school record with four singles wins at the state meet to place fifth, while the doubles team of seniors Payton Beeler and Idalia Aguilar took two of its first three matches and finished eighth.
"That is a great accomplishment," MHS head coach Susan Carney said of Crawford's performance. "She works hard on her game and it has paid off."
Crawford opened with a straight-set victory over senior Jessica Rakers (6-1, 6-2) of Lutheran South in St. Louis, but suffered her only loss to Chillicothe junior Sydnie Whiteside (7-5, 6-2) in the second round. Whiteside, who had nipped Crawford during an early-season dual, 10-8, went on to reach the championship match and placed second.
Crawford then reeled off three straight wins, the first one -- over Kennett freshman Hadley Hilburn (6-2, 6-2) -- secured a spot in the medal round. She then defeated Springfield Catholic freshman Emily Kroutil (6-2, 6-3) and won a second-set tiebreaker 8-6 to down Richmond junior Bailey Busse (6-1, 7-6) -- avenging a season-opening loss in her debut at No. 1 singles.
"She has the calmest demeanor on the court and stays focused every hit," Carney said. "She has long points and can handle long matches."
Beeler and Aguilar also opened with a win, in three sets, over Dexter (6-3, 4-6, 6-3), but were beaten in a three-set second-round contest against Bishop DuBourg (4-6, 6-4, 6-4) of St. Louis.
After locking up a medal with a win over Lutheran South (6-3, 6-2), the Marshall duo was defeated by a combo from Visitation Academy (6-0, 6-1) in St. Louis which would eventually capture third place and lost a first-set tiebreaker and were swept by Cape Girardeau-Notre Dame (7-5, 6-1) in the seventh-place tilt.
"Payton and Idalia played some very strong tennis and were great to watch," Carney declared. "They were ready to take on whatever they faced and sometimes just a point here or there made the difference in the set."
Beeler and Aguilar finished with a 10-6 doubles record after being paired midway through the season. The Lady Owls will see three of their six singles starters graduate, but returning should be Crawford, who lead the team with 22 wins at No. 1 singles.
"She has a strong work ethic that will continue to help her grow her game," Carney said. "I am proud of her. She is so positive."