It could be one for one for Teutopolis.
The newcomer to the Apollo Conference was granted a one-year trial based on the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, when it comes to conference tournaments, this may be a first, although winning invitationals is nothing new to T-Town.
“The top team in the conference would be Teutopolis,” said Effingham coach Erik Williamson. “With Teutopolis being in the conference, they are definitely the girls to beat in the singles and doubles flights.”
Starting off in singles, the top contender to win the singles competition has to be Macy Probst. The junior was named the WCIA-TV Athlete of the Week one week ago when she stood 7-0 in singles and 11-0 in doubles competition.
“They have the most number one seeds, so you have to consider them the favorite,” said Mattoon coach Dwight Perry. “Their No. 1 beat Emily (Stortzum), 7-5, 6-3, when we played them in a dual match. That’s a pretty even score in terms of abilities when you have two great players going at it.”
Stortzum enters as the No. 2 seed at No. 1 singles. Stortzum is ranked No. 2 at No. 1 doubles with Tess Huene. Both qualified for state last season and have dominated most of their matches this season.
For now, Mattoon is still the reigning Apollo Conference champions, which is something other coaches have put into consideration when ranking the overall contenders.
“I believe the top teams competing for the conference title are Teutopolis and Mattoon,” said Mount Zion coach Mike Roberts. “Teutopolis comes into the tournament for the first time with a young coach and tons of talent. Mattoon is led by an extremely experienced coach in his last year looking to add one last conference title to the many that he has earned. While T-town has the talent, I never count out Mattoon and their tenacity and ability to take it up another notch during the conference tournament.”
Right behind T-Town and Mattoon, Effingham figures to be in the mix for a top-three spot. Riley Arend, Eden Wendling and Lydia Kull lead the Lady Hearts.
“We are hoping to rally in the tournament after coming off a couple tough matches last week and look to play our best tennis now that it’s the end of the season,” said Williamson.
As for Mt. Zion, 15 of the 20 players on the team are either freshmen or sophomores. That figures to be a similar feeling for Charleston as sophomore Maggie Goetten leads the team at No. 1 singles, while Maci Mayhall and Clara Cox could make some noise in the doubles tournament.
“We have strived to get better over the season, and, for the most part, I think we have achieved that,” said Roberts. “While I don’t have any of the top players seeded in the tournament this weekend (we have a lot of the middle seeds), we will be highly competitive.”
Mattoon is hopeful that some of the other Apollo teams can create some upsets. Perry is confident in his team’s abilities, citing that the conference tournament always depends on “whoever is on and whoever is off.”
However, having a little help against an obvious giant wouldn’t hurt either.
“We’ll simply have to have some of our players seeded at No. 2 to have some upsets,” said Perry. “Somebody down the road, either from Effingham or Mount Zion will need to upset someone from T-Town. It all depends on how everyone plays. The main goal as the season goes on is for us to peak at the right time. We have played some awfully tough schools. We’ve lost some close matches, but I think we are ready. It’s just a matter of getting the job done.”