The Roxana duo of Georgia Ballard, left, and Anna Ballard, right, slap hands during Friday action at the Edwardsville Sectional. The junior tandem earned a berth to state with a fourth-place finish.
Marquette freshman Shelby Jones hits a return at the net on Friday at the EHS Tennis Center. Jones nabbed fourth place to advance to state.
Sydney Owsley of the Shells competes in singles action on Friday in the Edwardsville Sectional.
EDWARDSVILLE — Janelle Wilson threw her heart and soul into the singles championship match of Saturday's Edwardsville Girls' Tennis Sectional.
Yet her valiant effort wasn’t quite enough for the Alton High senior. Edwardsville’s Callaghan Adams defeated Wilson, 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (tiebreaker) in a taut three-hour thriller. Wilson is 20-3 for the season and two of those losses have come to Adams. She has beaten her once.
“It’s not where I wanted to be,” Wilson said of her overall play in the final. “I double faulted serving four times in the tie-breaker. But I will be ready for state.”
Both players, along with third-place Morgan Colbert and fourth-place Shelby Jones of Marquette Catholic, advanced to state in singles. The one-class, three-day IHSA finals start next Thursday in Chicagoland.
Edwardsville, the sectional team champion with 35 points, qualified a pair doubles teams for state. Jersey’s Ellen Snyders and Ashton Tewell, third in sectional doubles, also punched their state tickets. So did Roxana twins Anna and Georgia Ballard. The juniors finished fourth.
Most of the attention centered around the Wilson-Adams bout, the final one of the day. Wilson led 5-4 in the decisive third set, but Adams, the three-time sectional champion, tied it 5-5 and then 6-6. In the tie-breaker, Adams got to seven points first.
“Those were two very good players and competitors going at it again,” Alton coach Robert Logan said. “There’s not much that’s separates them. It was a typical match between them and both should be high seeds at state.”
Dave Lipe, Edwardsville’s coach, said it was a classic confrontation. Adams’ victory helped the Tigers snare their 18th consecutive sectional title.
“Honestly, it was one of the best high school tennis matches I’ve ever seen,” he said. “You had two great players that were going at it back and forth. It was comparable to a Round of 16 match that you would see at state.”
He added, “Callaghan showed a lot of composure and played like a champion. Janelle is also a great player and a phenomenal athlete.”
Jersey High scored 15 points to take second in the 10-school sectional. Alton placed third with 14 points, while Roxana and Marquette shared fourth with 12 points.
Megan LaRose and Mallory Abert of Edwardsville defeated teammates Emily and Maddie Lombardi, 6-3, 6-4 for the doubles championship. Snyders and Tewell of Jersey scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over the Ballard sisters of Roxana for third. The Ballards are 16-9 in doubles play this season.
“Anna and Georgia played a ton of tennis over the summer, and they were focused on trying to get to state,” Shells’ coach Mike Kathriner said. “They wanted to be part of it and we’re so happy to be returning to state.”
Jones, a freshman at Marquette, will carry an 11-9 record into state singles play.
“It’s nice to get her through to state,” Explorers’ coach Jim Claywell said. “Shelby plays year-round and she likes to compete. Having her qualify for state and getting the experience of going there as a freshman is a big thing.”
Other sectional teams and scores included: Civic Memorial (eight points), Highland (six), Metro East Lutheran (six) and East Alton-River (two). Granite City didn’t score.
Elsewhere, Belleville West scored 26 points to win the Belleville East Sectional. The host Lancers placed second with 24 points and Triad finished third with 14 points.
Kayleigh Thurwalker of West won the singles title, while sophomores Alexis and Kylie McCarthy of Triad reigned as doubles champs.