A senior at Park Hill South, she bested St. Joseph Central’s Holly Johnston in Tuesday’s Class 2 Sectional 8 individual matches at Clayview Country Club in Kansas City, Mo. to earn her fourth trip to the Missouri State Tennis Championships. Royle came up one win shy of a top-six finish in singles last year after berths in singles as a sophomore and as part of doubles team her freshman year.
The win came on the heels of Royle’s third straight Class 2 District 15 singles title she earned Oct. 4 at Oak Park High School in Kansas City. She bested Oak Park’s Lauren Sullivan 6-0, 6-0 to claim the crown.
The state tournament starts Oct. 17 at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo.
“It’s always a stressful match (at state),” Royle said. “It’s one match; that’s all that matters. It’s the one thing that pushes you to stay after all the preseason and regular season stuff. So I’ll just relax and play my hardest.”
Royle lost her opening match at state last year but rallied to earn one of the eight medals given out. She won the seventh-place match to close the season.
For the fourth straight year, Royle also leads Park Hill South into the Class 2 team bracket after the Panthers won the District 15 bracket with a 5-4 win against St. Teresa’s last week. Earlier in the season, Park Hill South beat the Stars 6-3 but the rematch proved even closer.
Liberty awaits the Panthers in Oct. 11’s sectional/quarterfinal rounds. The Blue Jays won the regular season meeting between the two schools, 7-2.
“Our first goal is always to win districts and move on to sectionals,” Park Hill South assistant coach Ian Cunliff said. “Sectionals is really tough. We have a tough first round. All we can say is we survived to play another day.”
A Park Hill South upset would advance the Panthers to face the winner of Grain Valley and Notre Dame de Sion, which match up in the other sectional scheduled for Minor Park in Kansas City, Mo.
Liberty defeated St. Joseph Central in the District 16 championship after the Indians eliminated Platte County in the semifinals. The Pirates finished at 12-2 and did not advance an individual into sectional play.
Shelley and Stephanie Laures were fourth in doubles at districts, which advances only the top two in each bracket to sectionals. Park Hill senior Rachel England advanced to the semifinal round in singles but lost to Sullivan.
Park Hill South’s top doubles team of Suzanne Brown and Halle Nixon won the first set in a semifinal match against eventual champions Hannah Swanson and Anna Hafner of St. Teresa’s but dropped the last two sets 3-6 to miss the sectional cut.