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Photo by Theo Tate
Roxana's Sydney Owsley makes a backhand return in her singles semifinal match against Mascoutah's Emma Wieland in the Class 1A Triad Sectional on Saturday. Owsley finished third and will compete in the state tournament for the third time of her high school tennis career.
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Photo by Theo Tate
Roxana senior Sydney Owsley gets some instructions from coach Mike Kathriner during her singles semifinal match against Mascoutah's Emma Wieland in the Class 1A Triad Sectional on Saturday.
TROY -- Down 1-0 to Jersey’s Hailea Tepen in the third-place singles match of the Class 1A Triad Sectional on Saturday, Roxana senior Sydney Owsley got a pep talk from assistant coach Scott Stahlut.
“He told me to move a little bit more and focus on the next game and move her around a little bit more and cut back on some of my shots that weren’t working for me,” Owsley said.
The pep talk worked. Owsley rallied to win the set and match to turn in the best sectional finish of her high school tennis career. Owsley won 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and will make her third state tournament appearance.
“I gave it my all because there was nothing to lose,” Owsley said.
Owsley will be the Shells’ lone representative at the Class 1A state tournament, which starts on Thursday and ends on Saturday in suburban Chicago.
“I’ll just try to win a couple of matches up there because I won three last year and I’ll just do the best I can,” said Owsley, who is the Shells’ only senior.
Owsley competed in state in her freshman and junior seasons. Last year, she finished fourth in singles at the Alton Sectional. When Owsley was a freshman, she and her sister, Samantha, finished fourth in doubles in the Alton Sectional.
Roxana coach Mike Kathriner said he was thrilled that Owsley will end her high school tennis career with another trip to state.
“It’s great for the Roxana tennis program,” he said. “It puts us on the map and keeps us on the map and makes us legitimate. I think it’s great. I couldn’t be happier for her. Going up to state is the whole reason we play. It’s our goal from the first day of practice. To achieve your goal, what more can you hope for?”
Roxana placed fourth in the nine-team Triad Sectional with 16 points.
The doubles team of Haley Milazzo and Sara Kreutzrager came up one win short of clinching a state berth, losing to Highland’s Kirsten Plocher and Elizabeth Meadows 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
“They’re a really good team and they came across a Highland team that is playing really well right now,” Kathriner said. “At the end, we made a few more mistakes than Highland and Highland took advantage of our mistakes. There were a few points here and there that could have changed the momentum. Highland grabbed the momentum and kept the momentum and put us away and did what they have to do to win.”
Another Roxana doubles team, Abby and Lauren Gegen, won their first-round match before losing to Triad’s Catherine and Christine Catalano in the second.
Metro-East Lutheran finished in a tie for sixth with Mascoutah with 10 points. Kathryn Butler and Maycen O’Leary lost to Althoff’s Emma Melichar and Madelyn Skinner in the doubles quarterfinals, Heather Moore-Malec lost to Triad’s Kylie McCarthy in the singles quarterfinals and Cierra Frields won her first-round match before losing to Owsley in the second.
Marquette Catholic was eighth with six points. Shelby Jones, who competed in state the last two years, lost to Althoff’s Jordyn Roper 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the second round on Friday. Andrianna Ventgimlia beat Civic Memorial’s Ryan Allison 6-1, 6-0 in the second round before losing to Owsley 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Abby Simonds and Annie Tassinari defeated Mascoutah’s McKenna Lanter and Emma Cook in the first round before losing to Jersey’s Anne Snyders and Ashton Tewell in the second.
Civic Memorial and East Alton-Wood River didn’t score any points.
The win over Ventigimlia in the quarterfinals on Friday clinched a state berth for Owsley.
“It’s great because it’s my senior year,” Owsley said. “It’s fun and a good experience overall because you get to play against good people.”
Owsley lost to Mascoutah’s Emma Wieland 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals. Owsley led 1-0 in the first set before Wieland won that set, the second set and the match to advance to the championship match against McCarthy.
“I was missing some of my shots and she was having a really good game today,” Owsley said. “Earlier in the season, I played her and I beat her. Now, she beat me.”
In the first set of the third-place match, Owsley stormed to a 3-0 lead and went on to win the set. She took a 1-0 lead in the second set before Tepen rallied to win the set and send the match into a third set.
After trailing 1-0, Owsley scored four straight points and never looked back.
The IHSA girls’ tennis postseason tournament is in its first year under the two-class system. In the past, Roxana had to play against big schools such as Edwardsville and Alton in sectionals.
“This sectional here was really difficult,” Kathriner said. “With Althoff coming over, it still made the sectional difficult, but I think it’s great. It gives some different teams an opportunity to experience what the state tennis tournament is like.”
Althoff won the sectional title with 23 points, followed by Triad with 18 and Jersey with 16.