Park Hill South kept its team season alive with a comeback and then showed off its dominance in the Class 2 District 15 individual tournament three days later.
In a rematch, the Panthers avenged a previous loss to St. Teresa’s Academy by winning four of six singles matches in the District 15 team championship dual Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Plaza Tennis Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Stars held a lead out of doubles but couldn’t pull the season sweep.
Park Hill South’s 5-4 win reversed the score of the previous meeting and sent the Panthers into the team playoffs for a 10th consecutive season.
In the first meeting, Park Hill South did not yet have freshman No. 1 Eva Kresovic available, and she made a big difference in the rematch. Kresovic and Chloe Norris won the No. 1 doubles match with Maggie Fielder and Mary Claire Connor 8-3, but that turned out to be the Panthers’ lone victory.
St. Teresa’s 9-7 win at No. 3 sent the Stars into singles up 2-1 and needing just a split or better to earn the win.
Kresovic didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 sweep of Fielder at No. 1, and No. 2 Chloe Norris (6-2, 6-3) and No. 5 Halle Nixon (6-1, 6-3) also secured quick wins. Suzanne Brown, a senior, grabbed a 6-1, 7-6 (7-5 victory) to secure the title for the Panthers.
Park Hill South (12-3) advances to play in the Class 2 sectionals, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. The Panthers open with Liberty (18-1), which handed them one of their three losses so far this season.
The winner advances to play in the quarterfinals later that day against either Lee’s Summit West or Blue Springs South. With a win over Liberty, Park Hill South could have the chance to avenge all three losses on the season in consecutive matches, having lost to Lee’s Summit West late in the regular season.
Park Hill South has reached the quarterfinals just twice in the previous nine playoff appearances (2012 and 2015).
In addition to the team success, Park Hill South also continued its run of individual state qualifiers. The Panthers had three of the four finalists in the District 15 singles and doubles brackets during play Saturday, Oct. 1 in Kansas City, Mo.
Kresovic defeated Nixon in the singles bracket, sending both into sectional play, while Abby Norris and Chloe Norris swept the doubles final 6-4, 6-4 against St. Teresa’s Fielder and Thais Montagner. The winners of individual sectional matches advance on to state, and Park Hill South will have a pair of entrants in the Class 2 Missouri State Tennis Championships next week.
In singles, Kresovic dominated Natalie Thimgan of Staley — the runner-up from District 16 — in quick sweep Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Clayview Country Club in Kansas City, Mo. Nixon did not advance after a loss to District 16 singles champion Colby Kelley of Liberty.
However, Park Hill South’s doubles team of Abby Norris and Chloe Norris swept the second set of a matchup with Platte County’s Madalyn Ivy and Hannah Valentine to win a sectional title.
The first set, played outdoors, ended with a 7-5 win before the Panthers’ state-bound duo took the second 6-0 with the final five games played indoors due to inclement weather.
All three players from Park Hill South slated to play at state in the individual brackets Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15 at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo. will be first-time qualifiers. The Panthers have sent a singles player in five straight seasons (Adele Royle, 2012-14 and Stephanie Boulenger, 2015) but have not put an individual in both state brackets, unless it happened prior to the 2003 season.