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Update: Kennett girls tennis team set to leave for state final four Wednesday

Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2012, at 1:00 AM

KENNETT, Mo. - The Kennett varsity girls tennis team continued to prepare for its Class 1 state final four match at Monday afternoon's practice following school.

Kennett beat Lutheran South 5-2 in a Class 1 state quarterfinal Saturday to advance to the state final four for the first time in school history.

"It's really special to be the first team in school history to go to the final four," Kennett sophomore Kara Heeb said. "I'm excited to see what happens in the upcoming week."

Kennett is set to take on Barstow Thursday at 9 a.m. in a Class 1 state semifinal match. Barstow (13-5) beat Trenton 5-0 in its state quarterfinal game Monday morning in Kansas City, Mo.

"It's going to be awesome," Kennett freshman Alexa McPherson said of playing Barstow. "I cannot wait. This is my first year and I'm excited to get to be a part of this."

The other state semifinal contest will feature defending Class 1 state champion Visitation Academy (17-1) vs. Logan-Rogersville (16-0).

"It's been an amazing experience so far," Kennett junior Kelsey Washburn said. "We've had a great deal of support from the community and I'm very thankful for that. I'm just so ready to see how things go at the final four."

Both state semifinal matches will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo. The winners of the state semifinal matches will play for the state title Thursday at 1 p.m. and the losers will play for third-place Thursday at 1 p.m.

Kennett enters the state final four with a 19-1 record. It has won 19 straight matches. Its only loss this season is to Jackson, Mo., which finished its season with a 21-2 record and advanced to the Class 2 state sectionals before suffering a 5-0 loss to Lafayette (Wildwood) Saturday.

Kennett senior starter Anna Kay Hilburn, which has been a varsity starter on the past four district championship teams at Kennett, says the 2012 squad recognized its potential at the start of the season.

"We've worked harder this year than we have in past seasons," Anna Kay Hilburn said. "I think it's great to take this team as a senior where we want to go.

"This year had been more intense," Hilburn continued. "We've known we have had a chance in most of our matches this year and it's just been a matter of locking it in and knowing we can win it."

The Kennett tennis team will leave for the state final four Wednesday morning. The team will have breakfast in the high school cafeteria at 8 a.m. Following breakfast the team will travel by the Kennett schools during a sendoff ceremony at approximately 9 a.m.

"We are going to all the schools," Kennett junior Darby Sparks said. "It should be really fun seeing the little kids show their spirit. I think that will give us a boost of confidence and great sendoff. Hopefully, we will be in good spirit when we arrive in Springfield."

Kennett is set to practice at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo., Wednesday at 5 p.m.

"Fourth is the worst we can finish and it's still amazing to make it that far," Kennett senior Kate White said. "All the hard work has paid off and I'm just so excited about our accomplishments."

Notes: Admission for the start tournament is $7. Only contestants warming-up or competing shall be permitted inside the fences surrounding the courts. Only coaches are permitted to coach or instruct athletes during or between matches. Limited spectator seating will be provided. Contestants and coaches may provide their own chairs for viewing the contest. According to MSHSAA regulations, under no circumstances will chairs be permitted on the courts. The Cooper Tennis Complex is located at 2331 E Pythian Street in Springfield, Mo.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. - The Kennett varsity girls tennis team advanced to the state final four for the first time in school history Saturday evening when it collected a 5-2 win against Lutheran South in a Class 1 state quarterfinal contest.

"They are ecstatic," Kennett coach Janet Hilburn said of her players in a phone interview following the win. "They cannot stop talking and are hyped up. When we got that fifth point today everyone just dropped their rackets and left the courts. They are so excited. They know they made history.

"I told them 'all the practice drills, running and play in 105 degree heat has paid off,' Hilburn continued. "I'm just so proud of them."

Saturday's Class 1 state playoff matches were played at Steel Shop Tennis Club in St. Charles, Mo.

Lutheran South (11-8) beat Crossroads College Preparatory 5-1 in the first Class 1 state sectional contest Saturday.

Kennett won the second state sectional against North County 5-2.

"North County has a good team," Hilburn said. "We knew it was going to be close because they are a team similar to Notre Dame. We knew we were going to have to grind and play smart because they were very good. We ended up having to go to doubles and our doubles played one of their best games in the last week."

Kennett's Kelsey Washburn and Kate White secured the fifth point for Kennett against North County with a 6-4, 6-2, win in doubles.

Kennett's victory against North County set the stage for a rematch with Lutheran South. Kennett was eliminated from the 2011 state playoffs when it suffered a 5-4 loss to Lutheran South in the state quarterfinals. Lutheran South also beat Kennett in a 2010 state sectional contest and had advanced to the state final four the last two seasons.

2012 proved to be a different story. Kennett collected wins in four of its six singles matches against Lutheran South and the only doubles match completed.

"The girls were the underdog entering today's match against Lutheran South, but we knew we had a good chance to come out of it on top," Hilburn said. "We hit the courts and played outstanding."

Kennett's No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles players -- Washburn, Kara Heeb, and Alexa McPherson won their singles matches against North County and Lutheran South.

Heeb-McPherson secured the final point of the day with a 6-1, 6-0, win against Lutheran South in doubles.

"We knew our No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles were going to have to give us points," Hilburn said. "When I gave them the pep talk before the match I told them that. I looked them in the eyes and said 'you play better when I need you most.' Sure enough our four, five and six singles came through."

North County finished its season with a record of 11-3 and Crossroads College Preparatory finished its season with a 5-9 record.

Kennett improves its record to 19-1 with the state quarterfinal win and has won 19 straight matches.

Kennett will play its state semifinal contest at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo., at 9 a.m. Thursday. The state championship is slated for approximately 1 p.m. Thursday.

Kennett will play the winner of a state quarterfinal contest between Trenton (15-4) and Barstow (12-5) in the state semifinals. Barstow will play Trenton on Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo.

"We are going to practice Monday and Tuesday," Hilburn said. "Then we are going to head out on Wednesday and practice at the Springfield Cooper Complex Wednesday. We know our competition is going to be good. We are going to approach the final four just like we approached our matches today and hope for the best."

View complete results from Kennett's state sectional contest and state quarterfinal contest below:

Look for additional information on the state final four later online and in Tuesday's Daily Dunklin Democrat.

Kennett def. Lutheran South 5-2


Jessica Rakers (LS) def. Anna Kay Hilburn 6-1, 6-4

Darby Sparks (K) def. R. Koehn 6-1, 6-3

Emily Brown (LS) def. Kate White 4-6, 6-2, 6-3

Kelsey Washburn (K) def. Alissa Holthe 7-5, 6-0

Kara Heeb (K) def. K. Lahue 6-2, 6-2

Alexa McPherson (K) def. S. Kovac 6-1, 6-0


Heeb-McPherson (K) def. Hurd-Willenbrock 6-1, 6-0

Kennett def. North County 5-2


Anna Kay Hilburn (K) def. Miranda Maeys 6-4, 6-3

Cheyenne Anderson (NC) def. Darby Sparks 7-6, 1-6, 6-4

Molly McBride (NC) def. Kate White 3-6, 6-4, 7-5

Kelsey Washburn (K) def. Buse Beker 4-6, 6-0, 6-1

Kara Heeb (K) def. Rachel Lamarr 6-1, 6-2

Alexa McPherson (K) def. E. Hampton 6-1, 6-1


White-Washburn (K) def. McBride-Beker 6-4, 6-2

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Congrats Ladies! Good luck in Springfield!

-- Posted by bball79 on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 4:07 PM

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Dustin Ward has been the sports editor at Daily Statesman in Dexter, Mo., since August 2013.

Ward graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in psychology. He also has 21-hour concentration in environmental science, social studies and education.

Ward started following sports in southeast Missouri when he was five-years-old in 1991. In the 2009-10 basketball season, he watched 84 varsity basketball teams play a total of 147 varsity games. He has also attended the state basketball, baseball and volleyball tournaments the last three seasons. His favorite baseball memory is watching the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series.

Ward completed an internship in the summer of 2010 at semoball.com. During the internship he had the opportunity to visit and photograph the athletic facilities at all 58 semoball schools. He also researched the district and state championship histories of 55 schools and used the Cover it Live application to cover the Senior Babe Ruth state baseball tournament. After the internship he served as sports editor at Daily Dunklin Democrat in Kennett, Mo., from 2011-2013.