EDWARDSVILLE — The Heather Bradshaw Invitational is the Tigers' way of honoring the late EHS tennis coach and they do it in style.
There were 37 teams participating in the tennis extravaganza on Friday and Saturday with powerhouse New Trier winning the champions flight title. The Tigers finished fourth.
Bradshaw was an assistant coach for Edwardsville from 2003-05 before dying in a car accident in Florida in 2005. The tournament is an excellent way to honor her with a plethora of top echelon tennis talent at the EHS Tennis Center and surrounding host sites.
“From a tournament director's standpoint it was a very successful event,” Edwardsville head coach Dave Lipe said. “There were 37 teams from all over, Chicago, St. Louis and all over Illinois. It's the right amount of tennis, four matches in two days for these girls. It went very smoothly and I'm very grateful to the many other sites, the schools, the parks and junior colleges that helped us.”
The tournament is split into three flights — the champions flight, the challengers flight and the futures flight. The Tigers entered a team into all three flights.
The top EHS team enjoyed a good first day Friday in the champions flight. They bested Dunlap 5-0 in the opening round and then blanked Chatham Glenwood 5-0 to reach the semifinals on Saturday.
The Tigers ran into New Trier's No. 2 team on Saturday morning and fell 3-2, setting up a showdown with St. Joseph's Academy. It was a rematch of the opening dual of the season for Edwardsville, when it traveled to St. Joe's campus in Missouri.
EHS lost 10-7 in the dual on Aug. 25 and came up just short again on Saturday, falling 3-2 to the Angels at the EHS Tennis Center.
“St. Joe's is always a really good team,” Edwardsville's Maria Mezo said. “Whenever we play them it's really close. It's a good practice match for us leading up to sectionals and state.”
Mezo paired up with teammate Mackenzie Cadigan to win at No. 2 doubles for the Tigers. The tandem bested Julia Kowan and Lilly Montono of the Angels 6-3, 6-0.
The other EHS win vs. St. Joe's came at No. 1 doubles. Morgan Colbert and Grace Desse dismissed Lexie Woodman and Shannon Sims of St. Joe's 6-4, 6-1.
In singles, Edwardsville's No. 1 Natalie Karibian fell 6-1, 6-1 to Ellie Burger of the Angels and No. 2 Abby Cimarolli lost 6-2, 6-2 to Morgan Kane.
The No. 3 doubles team for the Tigers, Noni Updyke and Annie McGinnis, lost 6-3, 6-0 to St. Joe's Abby Russo and Nancy Serafin.
"It was a tough day of losing back-to-back matches, but I thought we played very well in some spots," Lipe said. "In other places, we struggled with our confidence a little bit today. But I'm proud that all 25 Edwardsville girls (on three teams) got to play a lot of tennis this weekend."
EHS' No. 2 team went 2-2 in the challengers flight and the No. 3 squad was 1-3 in the futures flight.
New Trier's No. 1 and No. 2 teams battled for the top spot in the champions flight. New Trier's No. 1 team won 5-0 in the tournament. They never dropped a match in the tournament.
"We're getting lots of chances to play good teams and I'm happy about that," Lipe said. "That gives us a blueprint for improvement."
Roxana, Civic Memorial and Metro East Lutheran also competed in the Bradshaw Invite. The Shells and Eagles were in the challengers flight and the Knights played in the futures flight. Roxana went 1-3, CM was also 1-3, while MELHS finished 2-1-1.
Roxana head coach Mike Kathriner was happy to get his team some top notch competition. It will only make the Shells better moving forward.
“We were a little more inconsistent this weekend than I would have liked to have been, but hopefully we can learn from that inconsistency,” Kathriner said. “The season is still young and more than anything the reason why we're in this tournament is to play good teams and different teams. We won a few and we lost a few.
“Sydney Owsley got a couple of wins. Sydney had the most wins and Sara Kreutztrager and Haley Milazzo came back in a third set tiebreaker to beat their opponent on Friday.”
As for the Tigers, Cadigan believes her team is trending in the right direction for another successful campaign.
“There are still a lot of things we need to work on, but we have a good team,” Cadigan said. “We all want to win, we all work really hard, we're a good group, we get along and we all cheer each other on.”