The lady hornet netters clinched their fifth straight district championship on Tuesday evening! The team was able to beat the Kirksville tigers 5-2 in a very close head-to-head team dual at Danner Park. The Chillicothe team required wins from five of their seven players in order to secure the team victory, and they were bolstered by a strong, encouraging home crowd as well.
The night started off strong for the lady hornets when juniors Keeley Shira and Bianca Clark breezed through their doubles match, winning the Pro-8 set in just 30 minutes. Right behind them, seniors Rylee Washburn and Isabella Garr also closed out a strong doubles win to move the team to 2-0 in the team score for the night. However, on the last doubles court, the match was much more neck and neck since Micah Crowe was still sitting out due to injury. That meant Bryton BeVelle played with Keonnia Morgan, who are a good pair together but have less experience together on the court. The pair put up a tough battle but eventually lost the match, which put the team score at 2-1.
In singles, Micah Crowe played her match as she had saved her strength from doubles to focus her energy on singles play despite her strained back. Crowe played consistent tennis with great backhand hits, but she was unable to put away her opponent, eventually losing her two-set match. That moved the team score between Chillicothe and Kirksville to 2-2. This was where the match turned tense when the coaches for both teams realized that Chillicothe was down on three of the five remaining singles courts. Garr and Morgan had both dropped their first sets and were headed toward losses. BeVelle, Washburn, and Clark were all up a set in their matches but were then down in their second sets. If they had dropped their second sets, then their matches would have each moved to a championship tie break in lieu of a third set. The coaches did not want to see matches come down to tiebreaks but rather clear set winners.
After about 15 minutes of questionable scores, Rylee Washburn turned up her consistency and quickly finished her match by winning the last four games in a row. With her win, Chillicothe moved to 3-2, but there were still not two additional clear cut winners on any court. Garr and Morgan had started mounting second set comebacks, but they were far from over. Clark and BeVelle were both tied on their courts. Senior Bryton BeVelle spoke with her coaches in different moments at the fence, remembering the high level pressure she handled in last year’s state matches and realizing that she did not want her season to be over. She turned her match around by winning the last three games in a row to ensure she did not have to play a tiebreak. The team was finally up 4-2 then.
Finally, the coaches were carefully watching Garr and Morgan both begin tiebreaks, but at the last moment, Clark shifted her second set score from 4-5 to 7-5 by winning her last three games in a row even after each one went to deuce. Coach Chambers ran on the court and hugged her and commended her on her great mental strength in order to battle back. With the team score at 5-2, the match was called in favor of Chillicothe, and the celebration of a fifth district championship title in five years was celebrated by all. The team all plays together again on Monday in the state sectionals round.
Individual scores were as follows:
Rylee Washburn & Isabella Garr beat Katlynn DeLeon & Madisynn Crawford 8-2.
Bryton BeVelle & Keonnia Morgan lost to Diana Lam & Maya Manney 5-8.
Bianca Clark & Keeley Shira beat Ava Hamlin & Macy Darnel 8-2.
Washburn beat DeLeon 6-0, 6-3.
BeVelle beat Diana Lam 6-4, 7-5.
Crowe lost to Ava Hamlin 3-6, 4-6.
Clark beat Manney 6-1, 7-5.