Mattoon’s Emily Stortzum is ranked 5th in doubles with Tess Huene.
This could be one of the most stacked doubles sectional in Illinois.
The girls tennis Class 1A Effingham St. Anthony Sectional begins today with 10 teams competing: Casey-Westfield, Charleston, Effingham, Effingham St. Anthony, Mattoon, Newton, Paris, Robinson, Shelbyville, and Teutopolis.
Here’s your team-by-team summary of today’s sectional participants.
Casey’s Eva Richardson has gone undefeated in the regular season in conference play. Her losses in singles have been to St. Anthony and Teutopolis. Richardson and Gwendalyn Eckerty have lost only three doubles matches during the regular season – St. Anthony, Teutopolis and Robinson.
Despite their stellar record, the duo is the No. 3 seeded doubles team. C-W has two doubles teams ranked as the duo of Emma Mason and Emily Sherwood caps out the seed rankings with a No. 6 rank. Mason and Sherwood own just two losses.
Before last Saturday’s Little Illini Conference match, the team was 10-3 on the season.
“CWHS is having a great season,” said coach Sara Richardson. “We have four seniors that will be playing in the sectional and although they will be sad that their high school tennis careers will be over, they are thankful that they were able to play this season with modifications during this time of COVID-19.
Charleston did not receive any seeds. Sophomore Maggie Goetten will compete in singles matches all year as she leads a relatively young CHS squad. CHS head coach Eric Selstad gives Teutopolis the best bet to win the Sectional Championship, while calling T-Town’s Macy Probst the best individual player.
“We have a relatively young team and we are happy to be competing,” said Selstad. “We keep improving but have some work to do to be competitive in the Sectional.”
Effingham will be led by All-Apollo selection Riley Arend. She is ranked as the No. 3 singles player. The team also has All-Apollo selections in Eden Wendling and Lydia Kull, but they are not ranked. Effingham finished the Apollo Conference in third place.
Effingham St. Anthony
Effingham St. Anthony has three girls ranked. Allison Kowalke and Caroline McDevitt are the No. 3 doubles team, and Emily Kowalke is ranked as the No. 4 singles player. St. Anthony does not play in a conference and has not played in any tournaments since their opening tourney at the beginning of the season. In that tournament, Kowalke and McDevitt placed second to T-Town’s Macy Probst and Isabelle Hemmen.
“My doubles team should be in the final four at sectionals,” said St. Anthony coach Darlene Esker. “My singles entry, Emily Kowalke, should have a good chance to find in the top four also. My team has good days and days when the weather or the wind had a voice in the final score. We are ready for the matches that are still to come.”
The senior tandem of Emily Stortzum and Tess Huene made the Apollo Conference championship, finishing runners-up. However, Stortzum and Huene were given the No. 5 seed. Paris coach Stefan Aydt does not believe their ranking is true to their name.
“Stortzum/Huene of Mattoon and Staller/List of Robinson have both shown they can compete with or beat the T-town and/or St. Anthony teams,” said Aydt. “All of those are really tossups as they each have the potential to win a championship in either bracket if they play well that day and get the right draw.”
No girls from Newton received a seed.
Paris entered the LIC with a 6-6 record and has one of the best ranked singles players in the Sectional. Kendal Mathews is ranked as the No. 2 singles player and could be a contender for the individual crown. Aydt knows that T-Town’s Macy Probst is a sure fire candidate to be in the championship, but with the way 2020 has done, he sees this as a free-for-all.
“Overall, I think this year is much more up for grabs than the last several years have been, as all four singles qualifiers and two of the doubles qualifiers from last year have graduated, said Aydt. “I do feel like we can be competitive with (T-Town) if we put together a complete match playing at the best of our ability. I could say that about a lot of other teams in the tournament too, so it should be a really fun and competitive day.”
Robinson will send out the No. 2 ranked doubles team in Sarah Staller and Lucy List. The two have lost to T-Town twice this season, while splitting their regular season matches with St. Anthony and Casey.
“We lost to both of those teams the first week of the season but our wins against them in the last two weeks,” said coach Steve Jenkins. “We have been able to secure wins against the other teams in the sectional that we played against.”
Jenkins said that playing Flora, Teutopolis, and St. Anthony due to COVID-19 region restrictions has helped his tennis team grow into a contender.
“At the beginning of the year, we had several girls playing varsity that didn’t have very much experience so when we were not able to play in any of our regular season tournaments we added extra matches against Flora, Teutopolis and St. Anthony,” said Jenkins. “The thought was that by playing against some of the best teams in the area would make us better prepared for our conference tournament and sectionals. We have been able to win our last three regular seasons and I think that all of our girls are playing their best tennis of the year.”
Shelbyville has no seeds and will feature a young.
“The Shelbyville team has struggled on and off court, but they put up a fight to the end. Even if that end comes quick,” said Shelbyville coach Suzanne Dobosz. “When you play high level teams in Effingham you are just happy to get on the board.”
The overwhelming favorite to win the sectional owns the No. 1 seed in singles and doubles competition. Macy Probst, the Apollo Conference singles champion, won the doubles title with Isabelle Hemmen. Grace Hoene is ranked No. 1 in singles.
T-Town claimed champions in eight of the nine flights at conference, but despite the talent, coach Allison Vogt is not ruling out any of the competition.
“With the top four medalists from the 2019 season all graduating last year, the singles crown is definitely up for grabs this season,” said Vogt. “Until we know who each team is sending in what flight, it will be difficult to distinguish who the contenders will be.”
T-Town will be vying for its third straight sectional championship, and their seventh title in the last nine years.
“Our team has been playing well,” said Vogt. “We have had several really high quality matches lately against some tough teams, and we’ve been able to come out on top. The girls are ready and looking forward to a few more matches and post-season. It’s been a memorable year.”
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