Mattoon’s Emily Stortzum smiles walking off the court after being defeated by Teutopolis’ Macy Probst in the Apollo Conference tournaments No. 1 singles championship game. (photo/Chet Piotrowski)
By Chet Piotrowski
Mattoon’s Emily Stortzum and Teutopolis’ Macy Probst were on a collision course in the Apollo Conference girls tennis tournament.
The two high school players found themselves facing each other at No. 1 singles Saturday for the second day in a row, this time in the No. 1 singles championship match at Effingham High.
While the end result was the same as Friday’s doubles final, Stortzum’s performance was significantly better Saturday.
Stortzum had been angry at herself after she and Tess Huene got swept by Probst and Isabella Hemmen in the No. 1 doubles final, 6-1, 6-2.
The Mattoon senior was far more aggressive in battling Probst on Saturday, forcing her top-seeded opponent to go to extra games in the first set before losing, 7-5, 6-1.
“I had a conversation with myself in the mirror, looking at myself and was like ‘We’re not going to have these same mistakes, and we’ll put all our effort into this next match and give it our all and leave it on the court,’” Stortzum said.
Huene, meanwhile, reached the finals at No. 2 singles, losing to Teutopolis’ Grace Hoene, 6-0, 6-2 in an adjoining court and Mattoon teammate Elaina Short captured the No. 4 singles title by defeating Effingham’s Gracie Kroenlein, 6-1, 6-2, before rain suspended play until Monday afternoon.
Mattoon’s Caroline Davis and Annalise Overmyer are scheduled to play in the title matches at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, on Monday.
Mattoon had entered the singles competition Saturday tied for second with Effingham, trailing only Teutopolis.
Stortzum had said Friday night that she and Huene might have been thinking too much about the final score instead of concentrating on each point.
That was not the case Saturday when she battled Probst from the beginning.
After giving up serve point to Probst to trail 1-0, Stortzum used two well-placed drop shots from stronger net play to tie it 1-1.
Stortzum then held serve, relying on another drop shot early and the battling through two deuces before capturing the final point for a 2-1 lead.
“I feel like I had her on a couple points where I don’t think she thought I could get to the ball,” Stortzum said. “I felt like I had a better mindset today than I did yesterday.”
Probst then won four of the next five tight games.
Stortzum, though, did not relent.
She captured Probst’s first service point 0-15 on a strong play at the net, hit a drop shot that Probst hit long, and then captured another service point to win two games and tie it, 5-5.
Stortzum, showing a little fatigue, gave up four quick points and fell behind, 6-5.
Probst, serving for the win, gained a 40-love lead before a ferocious back-and-forth series of cross court volleys yielded a point for Stortzum.
On the next serve, Stortzum returned the serve long, which gave Probst the first set.
Probst displayed why she was a sixth-place medalist in doubles at last year’s IHSA Class A state tournament.
She rushed the net after a Stortzum volley and returned the ball, clipping the net and taking the point 15-0. Stortzum, trailing 40-0 and in danger of getting into a deeper hole, couldn’t return a drop shot that was out of reach that made it 3-1.
Probst then won the next three games to secure the match and the Apollo singles title.
“I played my all the first set and kind of forgot about the second,” Stortzum said, laughing. “Having to realize this is my last year and I might not have another opportunity like this and put in my all and gave it my best.”
Mattoon girls tennis coach Dwight Perry said Probst knew Stortzum’s game plan on second serves.
“The T-town girl knew on the second serve that she was going to come in and did a lot with it. Emily knows it,” he said. “That’s the one area that I really believe that she needs to improve on.”
Stortzum gave credit to her opponent.
“She was a good net player,” she said. “I think it’s harder to pass her. You have to be perfect. You have to have it perfectly down the line or cross the court shot to get it past her. She was really good at reaching. She had great shots on me. She definitely had very good net play.”
Perry was impressed by Stortzum’s resiliency.
“Very proud of her,” Perry said. “She played hard. We always try to get through these girls that they leave it on the court, play hard, no matter what happens. You walk off, you’re not a loser – you’re a competitor. I couldn’t be more proud of her today.”
No. 1 Singles 5th place: Amelie Fried (MS) v. Maggie Goetten (CHS)
No. 2 Singles 5th place: Hannah Larson (CHS) v. Alexis Mallory (MTZ)
No. 3 Singles championship: Isabella Hemmen (Teutopolis) v. Caroline Davis (MHS)
No. 3 Singles 5th place: Gwen Tee (MS) v. Emma Amaya (CHS)
No. 4 Singles Championship: Carley Habing (Teutopolis) v. Annalise Overmyer (MHS)
No. 4 Singles 5th place: Aila Woomer (Eff) v. Lyla Long (CHS)
No. 5 Singles: 5th place: Gianna Hill (MS) v. Maci Mayhall (CHS)
No. 6 Singles: 3rd place: Peyton Schroeder (MTZ) v. Lily Gregory (MHS)