South tennis pushing on with Kresovic out of the lineup

RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South’s goals won’t change but the path to a record-breaking season took a turn in recent weeks.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill South’s Chloe Norris hits a serve during the No. 2 singles match against Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill South’s Chloe Norris hits a serve during the No. 2 singles match against Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.

A back injury knocked sophomore all-state singles player Eva Kresovic from the lineup, and the Panthers have been maintaining in her absence. They even picked up an important 6-2 win over rival Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill South High School with the No. 3 singles match not completed.

Abby and Chloe Norris have stepped up to the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in Park Hill South’s lineup, and the experience of playing tougher competition could end up being a benefit if and when Kresovic returns.

“It is hard to replace Eva,” Park Hill South coach Ian Cunliff said. “The Norris girls have done a really good job and the whole team has stepped up.”

Julia Stephens jumped into Park Hill South’s lineup at No. 6, and Park Hill took advantage of that matchup in the annual rivalry.

Casey Lasater won 8-5 for Park Hill’s lone singles victory after the Trojans left doubles down 2-1. Abby Norris held on for an 8-5 win over freshman Maisie Markowitz at No. 1, while Chloe Norris won by the same score at No. 2 over junior Kansas Dreps.

Leah Gehrke (No. 4) and Claudia Chou (No. 5) were also singles winners for Park Hill South.

Park Hill’s Dreps and Lauren Steckelberg won at No. 2 doubles with Cunliff continuing to mix and match his doubles teams in Kresovic’s absence. While the Norris sisters qualified for the Class 2 Missouri State Tennis Championships in doubles a year ago, they haven’t been paired together as much this year.

Abby Norris and Stephens were at No. 1 against Park Hill and had an 8-6 win over Markowitz and sophomore Elise McFee. Chloe Norris and Chou were at No. 2 and lost 8-2 to Dreps/Steckelberg.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill South’s Abby Norris hits return shot during the No. 1 singles match against Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. 

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill South’s Abby Norris hits return shot during the No. 1 singles match against Park Hill on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. 

Saunders and Gehrke were Park Hill’s South’s victorious team at No. 3 doubles.

“Last year in the postseason because of the rules, we were kind of stuck playing a doubles lineup we didn’t like in that situation where as if we had had more variety throughout the season we would have had more options,” Cunliff said. “We don’t want to be in that situation again. We want to have a lot of things ready to go to just in case.”

Park Hill South improved to 12-3 overall with two of the three losses in the past four duals without Kresovic. The Panthers close the dual schedule Wednesday, Sept. 20 with Blue Springs South before starting the postseason looking for not only an 11th straight playoff trip but finally reaching the state semifinals and grabbing a team trophy.

Park Hill dropped to 7-7 overall with duals left against Blue Springs on Tuesday, Sept. 19 (result not available) and vs. Oak Park on Sept. 21 before the start of the postseason.

Suburban North Tournament

Park Hill and Park Hill South shared the team title Saturday, Sept. 16 in Kansas City, Mo.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill freshman Maisie Markowitz reaches up to hit a serve in the dual with Park Hill South on Thursday, Sept. 14.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill freshman Maisie Markowitz reaches up to hit a serve in the dual with Park Hill South on Thursday, Sept. 14.

With four individual flights, Park Hill won both singles brackets, while Park Hill South won both doubles brackets. Both teams finished with 52 total points.

Abby Norris and Chloe Norris didn’t lose a game on the way to the A doubles championship, beating Platte County’s Hannah Valentine and Crystal Billings in the finals. Valentine and Billings outlasted Park Hill’s McFee and Steckelberg in the semifinals with the Trojans’ duo going on to finish third.

In B doubles, Saunders and Chou survived a tough first round matchup with Park Hill’s Lily Cota and Lasater (10-7), a team that came back to win the consolation bracket.

Park Hill’s Markowitz beat Gehrke in the first round on her way to the A singles title, while Gehrke came back to take fifth with a win over Platte County’s Mikayla Landers. In B singles, Dreps dominated her first two matches 10-1 and then topped Oak Park’s Jessica Rapp 10-5 in the championship match.

Park Hill South’s Stephens came back from her semifinal loss to Dreps to beat Platte County’s Jaycie Call for third.

Lee’s Summit West 5, Park Hill South 4

Without Kresovic, the Panthers lost a tight one in a rematch of last year’s Class 2 quarterfinal.

Park Hill South used a unique doubles lineup to take a 2-1 lead Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. Chloe Norris and Chou won 8-4 at No. 2, while Saunders and Gehrke were 8-2 winners at No. 3.

However, Lee’s Summit West won four of six singles matches for a comeback win. The Titans also won last year’s playoff matchup to advance to the state semifinals.

Chloe Norris (No. 2) and Chou (No. 5) were also winners in singles for Park Hill South.

Park Hill South 9, Truman 0

The Panthers started their week of home duals with a Suburban Conference Red Division sweep Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.

The three doubles teams for Park Hill South combined to lose just three games in a quick sweep. Chloe Norris (No. 2) and Stephens (No. 6) both ended up with 8-0 sweeps in singles.

The win finished off a 4-0 run through conference play. Raytown did not field a team this season.

Liberty 6, Park Hill 3

The Trojans showed improvement but lost a second straight against a 2016 playoff team.

Markowitz won 8-5 at No. 1, while McFee (No. 3) and Steckelberg (No. 4) helped Park Hill earn a split of six singles matches in the dual Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Barry Park in Kansas City, Mo. However, the Trojans couldn’t overcome a sweep of three tight doubles matches.

Liberty won a matchup between the two three days earlier by a score of 8-1.