GODFREY – Shelby Jones of the Marquette Catholic girls’ tennis team savored the moment Saturday in the Alton Sectional.
She finished third in singles competition and punched her ticket for another appearance in the IHSA finals. They will start next Thursday and conclude Saturday in Chicagoland. The Explorers’ doubles team of Elena Gable and Laura Moore also advanced to state after a fourth-place sectional showing.
“It’s very humbling to go to state,” said Jones, also a state qualifier as a freshman. “I want to go up there and play the best I can.”
Jones was at her best in the two-day sectional at the AHS courts. After bowing in the semifinals, the No. 3 singles seed topped Roxana’s Sydney Owsley, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in the third place match. Owsley, a junior, also advanced to state. Edwardsville prevailed in No. 1 and No. 2 singles and doubles and captured its 19th consecutive sectional team championship.
“First of all, I want to compliment Sydney for the way she played,” said Jones, sporting a 13-10 record. “She really played well. I knew I had to play my game. I calmed myself after the first set and kept a positive attitude.”
Marquette coach Jim Claywell added, “It was a very good match and Shelby had a very familiar opponent in Sydney. They have had similar scores.
“So it came down to who played the most solid and Shelby did a good job of getting back to the basics.”
Mike Kathriner, Roxana’s coach, lauded Owsley for her staunch effort. “It was a great match and Sydney forced Shelby to beat her. Sydney didn’t give away any points.”
The Explorers’ Gable and Moore lost to Jersey’s Ashton Tewell and Ann Snyders, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in third-place doubles. All four players qualified for state. Moore is the sister of Marquette boys' golf coach Pat Moore.
“Good is an understatement when you are talking about having three players advance to state,” Claywell said. “It’s great. Three is a mecca for us.”
Edwardsville is sending six players to state. Tigers’ ace Callaghan Adams finished first at No. 1 singles by defeating teammate Natalie Karibian, 6-0, 6-0. It was Adams’ 164th career win, adding to her luster as the Tigers’ all-time leader.
“And Callaghan has won all of them at No. 1 singles,” pointed out Edwardsville coach Dave Lipe. “She has a strong work ethic, is an intelligent player and shows a lot of leadership. She has a desire to lead the team.”
Morgan Colbert and Grace Desse of Edwardsville bested teammates Mackenzie Cadigan and Maira Mezo, 6-2, 6-0, for the doubles championship.
“I’m proud of the way all six of them played this weekend,” Lipe said of his half-dozen state qualifiers. “Our goal at state is to go up there and play our best tennis of the year. We want to play better at state than we have all year.
“If we play as well as we can, a top 10 state finish isn’t out of the question.”
All figured the Tigers scored 36 points in their latest sectional championship. Marquette and Jersey shared second with 17 points apiece. Highland (12 points), Roxana (eight), Alton (six), Civic Memorial (four), Metro East Lutheran (four), Greenville (two) and East Alton-Wood River (zero) rounded out the team scoring.
Alton’s top finishers were doubles partners Shannon Willis and Abby Fischer. They reached the quarterfinals before bowing to Marquette’s Gable and Moore, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Roxana’s third-seeded doubles team of Anna and Georgia Ballard, state qualifiers last season, lost to Highland’s Stephanie Olivares and Liz Arend in a second-round match. Jersey’s Tewell and Snyders then ousted the Highland players in the quarterfinals.