South tennis freshman Kresovic shines again in win over rival

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eva Kresovic showed up a little late this season.

Needing to meet the state mandated requirement for practices, the Park Hill South freshman suddenly appeared at the top of the Panthers lineup earlier this month. She’s still yet to lose since making her debut, adding victories in singles and doubles in the annual rivalry matchup with Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 15 at Barry Park.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill South freshman Eva Kresovic hits a backhand during a doubles match in a dual with Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 15 at Barry Park in Kansas City, Mo.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill South freshman Eva Kresovic hits a backhand during a doubles match in a dual with Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 15 at Barry Park in Kansas City, Mo.

With the two schools now in different divisions of the Suburban Conference, the schedule still allows for a meeting, and the two teams again went under the lights in a special night dual with Park Hill South taking an 8-1 victory. Kresovic won 8-0 at No. 1 singles over sophomore Kansas Dreps and teamed with Chloe Norris for an 8-2 victory at No. 1 singles — two of the most dominant showings for the Panthers.

“I think it went pretty well,” Kresovic said of her debut in the rivalry. “I’m just going to stick with what I’m doing because it seems to be working.”

Park Hill South (8-3) entered off of a loss to Lee’s Summit West, which halted a five-match winning streak that started with Kresovic’s debut in a 5-4 victory over 2015 Class 2 state runner-up Notre Dame de Sion.

Against Park Hill, the Panthers jumped to a 3-0 lead after doubles with the No. 2 team of Abby Norris and Halle Nixon posting a shutout. Suzanne Brown and Claudia Chou were 8-2 winners in the No. 3 match. Park Hill couldn’t recover, dropping a second straight dual which sent them into a Tuesday, Sept. 20 matchup with Blue Springs at 6-7 overall.

Park Hill South currently boasts three freshmen in the top three spots of the lineup with Brown (No. 4) and Nixon (No. 5) — the most experienced players on the roster — playing in the lower half. The youthful talent has become obvious as the postseason nears.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Camille Laude returns the ball against Park Hill South at the Thursday, Sept. 15 in a dual at Barry Park in Kansas City, Mo.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill senior Camille Laude returns the ball against Park Hill South at the Thursday, Sept. 15 in a dual at Barry Park in Kansas City, Mo.

“It’s tough,” Park Hill coach Rustin Reys said. “What we’ve been talking about all year is trying to compete and no matter you’re playing a high quality team or whatever just trying to play with a lot of energy and consistency and play within yourself. Park Hill South could very well make the state final four or make a run at the state title this year.”

Park Hill’s lone victory came from Lily Cota in the No. 6 singles match.

In addition to Kresovic’s shutout, Nixon won 8-1 vs. No. 5 Lauren Stekelberg. Chloe Norris ended up with most contested victory for Park Hill South, taking the No. 2 matchup with senior Ruth Francis 8-6. No. 3 Abby Norris (8-4) and Brown (8-3) were the other winners for the Panthers, who face road matches with Blue Springs South (Wednesday, Sept. 21) and Pembroke Hill (Thursday, Sept. 22) before the postseason starts next week.

Suburban North Tournament

Park Hill South swept the singles, Park Hill swept the doubles and Platte County turned in its best-ever showing in the eight-team tournament Saturday, Sept. 17.

Those three teams occupied the three top spots in the team standings with Park Hill South again edging its top rival. The Panthers won the title with 54 points with Park Hill in second at 52. Platte County totaled 46 with a pair of finalists.

Park Hill South dominated singles play, losing just two games in six total victories.

Kresovic took the A singles flight after posting back-to-back shutouts before posting an 8-1 win over Truman’s Devin Mercardo-Stroup in the final. Brown, a senior for the Panthers, won 8-1 in the semifinals and then shut out Kearney’s Cassidy Barker in the B singles final.

Platte County posted a big win in the A doubles semifinal to slow Park Hill South’s dominance.

Shifting around doubles teams, the Pirates paired up Rachel Valentine and Hannah Valentine, and they upset top-seeded Abby Norris and Nixon, who went on to place fourth. The Valentines matched up with Park Hill’s Francis and Dreps in the final with the Trojans’ top team winning a 9-8 (6-4) thriller to take the title.

In B doubles, Park Hill’s Camille Laude and Sushman Gandham had the their most dominant win in the finals, beating Platte County’s Madalyn Ivy and Mikayla Landers 8-1. Park Hill South’s Chloe Norris and Megan Post won 9-7 in the B doubles third-place match to pick up important points.

Platte County senior Stephanie Laures ended up fourth in A singles, while Park Hill’s Chloe Kuebler was third in the B singles. The Pirates (Lauren Laderoute, B singles) and Trojans (Steckelberg, A singles) also had consolation winners, meaning all four entries for Platte County, Park Hill and Park Hill South were in the top five.

Platte County 6, St. Joseph Central 3

Hannah Valentine remained unbeaten in singles this year during a Pirates’ win Monday, Sept. 19 in St. Joseph, Mo.

Starting in doubles, Platte County took a 2-1 lead with Laderoute and Landers ending a two-match skid with an 8-3 victory at No. 3. Rachel Valentine and Stephanie Laures won the final two games of a 9-7 victory at No. 1 to assure the Pirates took the lead into singles.

Rachel Valentine (No. 1), Ivy (No. 2), Hannah Valentine (No. 3) and Landers (No. 6) were singles winners. Rachel Valentine turned in a solid 10-4 victory, while Landers bounced back from a pair of recent dual losses with a 10-0 shutout.

Platte County 6, Staley 3

These two teams met up for the first time since 2011, and the Pirates rallied back for a win after a slow start Thursday, Sept. 15 in Kansas City, Mo.

Platte County fell behind in all three doubles matches, but Rachel Valentine and Laures won the final three games at No. 2 for a key 8-6 win, and Ivy and Hannah Valentine took the final four games for an 8-6 win at No. 1.

Ivy then won 10-2 at No. 2, and Laderoute came back to take the final three games in a 10-8 victory at No. 5. Hannah Valentine’s 10-2 win at No. 3 assured the win for the Pirates, while Laures’ victory at No. 4 accounted for the final score.

Platte County 9, Belton 0

The Pirates finished off their unbeaten run through Suburban Conference Blue Division play with a shorthanded sweep Tuesday, Sept. 13 in Belton, Mo.

With two regulars out of the lineup, Crystal Billings (No. 5) and Lauryn Klein (No. 6) grabbed singles victories while filling in. The two also teamed together at No. 3 doubles for a win.
Platte County went 4-0 in Blue Division play and won 35 of 36 individual matches in those duals, the most dominant conference effort in program history. The Pirates have won at least a share of five straight Blue Division championships.