EDWARDSVILLE — Shannon Willis was thrilled to leave the Edwardsville High School Tennis Center with a fifth-place finish in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles in her final Southwestern Conference girls' tennis championship tournament on Saturday.
“I’m pretty happy with fifth,” the Alton senior said. “I didn’t expect to do that well, so I’m glad I did.”
Willis defeated Collinsville’s Jennaka Cain 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles fifth-place match in the league tournament. She lost to Edwardsville’s Callaghan Adams in the first round and received a bye in the loser’s bracket semifinals before getting the win over Cain.
“It’s really good because I was worried about playing No. 1 this year,” Willis said. “I have never played No. 1 before and this is my last year, so I was kind of nervous for all of the girls in my conference. It was definitely tougher this year, but it’s a good feeling. I think it’s well deserved.”
Willis also helped the Redbirds place fifth in the eight-team conference tournament with 36 points. Alton finished fifth in all of its singles and doubles flights.
“That’s always nice,” Alton coach Robert Logan said. “It doesn’t always happen and it’s great moving forward for sectionals and everything for next week and get their confidence up. We got a nice week of practice coming up and we should be ready for sectionals.”
The Redbirds will compete in sectionals at Alton High on Friday.
“I’m excited because I play so much better at home,” Willis said. “On our courts, I feel more comfortable playing.”
The Redbirds also got fifth-place finishes from sophomore Abby Fischer (No. 2 singles), freshman Hannah Macias (No. 3 singles), senior Mary McDaniel (No. 4 singles), senior Katie Cronin (No. 5 singles) and sophomore Sami Clayton (No. 6 singles). Fischer beat Granite City’s Kourtney Singleton in two sets in her fifth-place match. Macias, McDaniel, Cronin and Clayton beat Collinsville in their fifth-place matches.
Willis teamed up with Fischer in No. 1 doubles and beat Collinsville’s Cayla Christopher and Olivia Thomas 6-3, 6-3 in the fifth-place match.
The No. 2 doubles team of Macias and McDaniel and the No. 3 doubles team of Cronin and Clayton also placed fifth. Macias and McDaniel beat Cain and Adrianna Lucas of Collinsville in the No. 2 doubles fifth-place match and Cronin and Clayton defeated Singleton and sophomore Kayla Bridick of Granite City in the No. 3 doubles fifth-place match.
Doubles were played on Friday and singles were played on Saturday.
Willis said she was pleased with the way the team performed in the league tournament.
“We’ve been practicing really hard this past week getting ready for this,” the Alton senior said.
Besides Willis, McDaniel and Cronin also played in their final conference tournament on Saturday.
The Redbirds finish fifth in the overall conference standings. They placed fifth in the standings in dual-match play at 3-4. Alton lost matches to Edwardsville, Belleville West, Belleville East and O’Fallon.
“This conference in every single sport is tough,” Logan said. “We’re pecking away at the top tier teams and we’re going to keep going at it and keep hitting it in the wintertime and the off-season and keep moving our way up the leaderboards as the best we can.”
Granite City placed seventh with 20 points. With her sixth-place finishes in No. 2 singles and No. 3 doubles, Singleton turned in the Warriors’ best finish in the tournament.
Singleton, a sophomore, played in the conference tournament for the first time.
“I had a lot of fun,” Singleton said. “It was a good experience for my first time.”
The Warriors got seventh-place finishes from senior Mikayla Kingsley (No. 1 singles), senior Dani Magana (No. 3 singles), senior Kayla Myers (No. 4 singles), sophomore Maya Ware (No. 5 singles) and Bridick (No. 6 singles).
The No. 1 doubles team of Kingsley and senior Bailee Warsing and the No. 2 doubles team of Magana and Myers also got seventh.
Kingsley, Warsing, Magana and Myers played in the conference tournament for the final time.
Kingsley said she was pleased with her effort at No. 1 singles.
“I played very well,” the Granite City senior said. “It feels like I’ve progressed.”
The Warriors will play in the Belleville West Sectional tournament on Friday.