EDWARDSVILLE — The Edwardsville Tigers proved to be the elite team at the Southern Illinois Duals on Friday and Saturday.
They went 3-0 and proved especially dominant in doubles action, not dropping a match all weekend.
EHS bested Hinsdale South 15-0 on Friday, squeaked by Rockbridge, Mo. 4-3 on Saturday morning and finished the duals off with a 7-0 victory of Normal at the EHS Tennis Center.
“Hinsdale South is very good team and we had a very dominant performance last night,” Edwardsville head coach Dave Lipe said. “Then today it was thrilling to beat Rockbridge for the second year in a row. To beat them 4-3 is a great win for us. Then this afternoon to come back in the heat and play Normal and at the beginning of those matches they were very competitive and our girls literally picked up their game, got a little tougher and a little stronger. I think every girl played the best tennis of their year, maybe their career this weekend.”
The Rockbridge match was the highlight of the weekend. The annual Missouri powerhouse won three of four singles bouts, but couldn't handle the Tigers in doubles action.
“That was a good win and Grace Desse and I had a good doubles win,” Edwardsville senior Morgan Colbert said. “I think overall as a team we played well. It's always a good thing and it gives you confidence moving forward.”
Colbert and Desse won in in a tiebreaker over Faith Wright and Katherine Dudley of Rockbridge, 6-1, 6-7, 10-7, at No. 1 doubles.
At No. 2, Maria Mezo and Mackenzie Cadigan cruised, 6-0, 6-0 and Grace Trimpe and Emily Greer won by the same score at No. 3 doubles.
Senior Noni Updyke was the swing match in the dual at No. 4 singles. Updyke bested Audrey Milyo of Rockbridge 6-1, 6-2.
“Our girls really toughed it out there,” Lipe said. “No. 1 doubles was tough, No. 1 singles, we didn't win there, but (Natalie Karibian) was strong. The doubles and then Noni Updyke at No. 4 singles were all stellar. Even the matches we lost to Rockbridge I thought we played quite well.”
Desse believes her and Colbert have created a great chemistry together and are poised for strong stretch run in their second season playing together.
“Morgan and I's chemistry is really weird,” Desse said. “Somehow we just know where each other is going to be at all times, which is really good for our case. We really just need to work on being more aggressive and being more comfortable hitting bad shots every once in awhile.
“We're trying to think about what our base level should be so we can keep building on that and be ready for those tough people at state.”
On Friday, the Tigers played 15 matches against Hinsdale South. Singles wins came from: Natalie Karibian, Cadigan, Mezo, Abby Cimarolli, Annie McGinnis, Updyke, Colbert, Desse, Grace Trimpe and Kilauren McMahon. All of them won in straight sets.
In doubles, victories were provided by: Colbert/Desse, Trimpe/Greer, Mezo/Cadigan, Karibian/Cimarolli and McGinnis/Updyke.
In Saturday afternoon's victory over Normal, EHS earned singles wins from: Karibian, Cimarolli, Updyke and Greer winning by default. Doubles wins came from: Colbert/Desse, Cadigan/Mezo and McGinnis/Trimpe.
Lipe believes the Southern Illinois Duals are a good barometer for where the Tigers are on the season with the postseason on the horizon.
“We're going to Chicago next weekend and we've got to play well and before that O'Fallon Tuesday,” Lipe said. “We'll enjoy these results today and then put all of our attention on O'Fallon, then Chicago, then a tournament, then the conference tournament, then it's sectionals and then state hopefully, which is a whole other conversation with the increased intensity with (a two-class system).”
It was a slightly emotional weekend for the EHS seniors, realizing it was their last tournament at home in a Tiger uniform.
“I was talking with the other seniors and this is the last home tournament, so that was kind of crazy to think about that,” Colbert said. “It was good matches and it's always fun playing at home because all of our families are here and to have good competition as well makes it a very good weekend for the whole team.”