EDWARDSVILLE - It was a banner day for the Edwardsville girls tennis team, as Chloe Koons won the singles championship, and the team of Chloe Trimpe and Hannah Colbert won the doubles title as the Tigers won their first team championship since 2016 in taking the Illinois High School Association Class 2A sectional Saturday morning and afternoon at the Edwardsville Tennis Center.
The Tigers won the team crown with 24 points, Belleville East and O'Fallon tied for second with 19 points each, Chatham Glenwood was fourth with 12 points, Belleville West and Springfield tied for fifth with 10 points apiece, Quincy came in seventh with eight points, Alton placed eighth with six points, and both Collinsville and Granite City failed to score.
Edwardsville coach Dave Lipe was very proud of his team for their efforts all weekend.
"This was a team effort, we had six girls that all contributed to this win," Lipe said, "and these six girls made this happen. Conditions were definitely a factor today; it's an excessively windy day, and players on every side had to make adjustments, and our girls played well, and gives us a very narrow sectional point total victory, which I think is a credit to the fact that O'Fallon and Belleville East, Springfield, Belleville West were not far off in terms of team talent. This was a very competitive sectional, one of the more competitive sectionals that I can remember, where it came down to the very last round of matches.
"We're very proud and fortunate to win it, and congratulations to all the kids who were still playing today, congratulations to all the kids throughout the state who ended their careers, because that's a very unique feeling for kids to play their last sectional match. The last match of your career is always a very emotional match, and I've seen kids perform at all sorts of different levels the last matches of their careers. And I thought today, our kids all played really fantastic tennis. I'm very proud of all of them, and I thank them all for all their incredible contributions to this program. They seem very happy, I'm very happy.
"Great effort this weekend and all season long,' Lipe continued, "from our coaching staff. Jonathan Koons, Kirk Schlueter, Emily Cimarolli, Paul Stewart all helped out this weekend, and all were extremely positive with these kids. I know it's just girls tennis to everybody in the world, but it's something that these girls and their families put a lot of effort into."
As far as standouts on the weekend, Lipe felt his entire team stood out throughout the entire tournament.
"You're going to ask me who stood out today, and I'm going to say everybody, especially the seniors," Lipe said. "We only had one senior playing today, so that's a positive thing, and also to know that Chloe Koons winning her first sectional singles championship as only a sophomore. This is her second time in the finals; she finaled last year, and lost to a really great player from Quincy High School. So for her to win sectionals today, I thought Abigail McIssac (of East) played a strong match against her, and challenged her. And the conditions were challenging. No matter what skill level today, these were really tough conditions. I think in high school tennis, it definitely changes the way you play. You have to change how you play in these conditions. You have to change your focus."
In the singles semifinals, Koons won over Gabi Schram of O'Fallon 6-0, 6-1, while McIssac defeated Nischitha Korrapati of Springfield 6-4, 6-3. Koons won the final over McIssac 6-0, 6-1, while Schram took the third and fourth place match over Korrapati 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. Over in the doubles semifinals, Colbert and Trimpe won their semifinal over the Lancers' Mia McIssac and Brodie Rauch 6-0, 6-1, while Ali and Megan Mueller of O'Fallon won the second semifinal 6-3, 6-4 over Alyssa Riley and Hailey Neal of Belleville West. Colbert and Trimpe won the final over the Mueller sisters 6-0, 6-1, while Mia McIssac and Rauch took the third and fourth place match over Riley and Neal 6-4, 6-4.
Normally, the top four finishers would be moving on to the state tournament in suburban Chicago next weekend, but the tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the circumstances, Lipe is very grateful for the sectional championship.
"You know, we could be morose, and look at it that way," Lipe said. "We could be pessimistic at what we didn't get. But I'm going to be optimistic, and look at what we got. And of course, of course, these three girls would love to be moving on to Chicago this weekend, of course. But that's not where my head is right now. We just won the sectional, and we hadn't won it in a while. We played great, and won two semis and two finals today; that's where my head is. Of course, a state tournament would be great, but you don't always get what you want, and we are in the midst of a pandemic, and we can only do what we can do."
Lipe is very proud of how his entire team played throughout the 2020 season.
"Yeah, no tournament losses," Lipe said. "This group won every event in which they played, sectional, conference, they were undefeated in conference, they were really good this weekend. They were really tested this weekend. This was the most fun tournament which we played, because it was the most challenging tournament in which we played. We credit O'Fallon, Belleville East, Springfield and Belleville West for that. Those teams are strong teams. This was a very tough sectional. This 2A sectional was full of good tennis players, and these girls played well, they competed well, and I'm very happy for them."