Gullette leads the All-Southeast Missourian Tennis Team
Editor's note: Selection to the All-Southeast Missourian Team does not necessarily constitute selection to the Semoball Award finalists for tennis.
The 2019 girls tennis season was a memorable one in Southeast Missouri, with Cape Girardeau Central (19-3) capturing the Class 2 District 1 championship and Notre Dame (16-3-1) winning the Class 1 District 2 title and advancing to the Final Four, the state championships in Springfield, Mo.
Cape Central and Notre Dame placed four players each on the All-Southeast Missourian Team and Jackson (9-11-1) placed one.
The honorees are as follows:
Megan Gullette, Notre Dame (Player of the Year)
Part of the first Notre Dame tennis team to go to the state championships (at which the Bulldogs finished fourth), Gullette, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, had a team-best 13-0 singles record.
“It’s hard to look at Megan and think of her as a 10th grader,” said Bulldogs co-coach Donna Ryan. “She is as mature as the rest of the team.”
“I played basketball a lot when I was younger,” said Gullette, “but I’m focused on tennis now because I want to get better and better.”
A trend the Missouri State High School Activities Association is seeing among student-athletes is single-sport specialization.
Megan seems to fit into that category.
“I really love tennis,” said Gullette, the tallest player on the Bulldogs squad. “In the summer, I play every day – sometimes as much as four hours a day.”
Ryan indicates there isn’t a lot of performance separation between the top four Notre Dame players, a list which includes senior Anna Grace Stroup and juniors Claire Southard and Claire Bruenderman.
“At the beginning of the (tennis) season,” Ryan said, “I said Megan was the player to watch.
“She has lived up to expectations.”
Gullette’s parents do not play tennis, so she is not following in family footsteps.
“I was looking for a fall sport,” Gullette said. “I tried volleyball and I didn’t want to play golf.
“(Tennis) doesn’t feel like work to me.”
Asked to describe her style of play, the 15-year old said she tries never to give up on an opponent’s shot.
“I’m going to run down any ball,” said Gullette, pointing to pros Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff and Caty McNally as inspirations.
“(Federer’s) work ethic is amazing,” she added.
Gullette likes science and envisions a possible career in the medical field one day.
College, of course, is still a long way off.
In the meantime, she marvels at the uniqueness of her chosen sport.
“Tennis is more mental than any sport I’ve played,” asserted Gullette. “(In singles), you’re by yourself with lots of time to think.”
Gullette teamed with Claire Southard in doubles play in 2019.
Other members of the team:
Claire Southard, Notre Dame
A junior, Southard compiled a singles record of 11-0 and teaming with Gullette, had a mark of 26-2 in doubles play.
Other honorees are:
Claire Bruenderman, Notre Dame
Bruenderman, a junior, compiled a singles record of 9-2. In doubles play, she was teamed with Anna Grace Stroup.
Anna Grace Stroup, Notre Dame
The Bulldogs’ only senior, the team of Stroup and Bruenderman went 22-6 in doubles in 2019. In singles, Stroup had an 11-2 record.
Megan Maxton, Cape Central
A freshman, the duo of Maxton and Emily Ford finished in first place in the Class 2 District 1 doubles tourney. Maxton’s doubles team was 20-2 and Megan had a team-best 15-1 record in singles.
Emily Ford, Cape Central
Ford, a sophomore, compiled a 14-2 mark in 2019 for a team that posted its best overall record in more than a decade.
Maria Seidu-Sofo, Cape Central
The senior went 13-1 in singles and with partner Anita Kellum, was 18-7 in doubles.
Anita Kellum, Cape Central
Fellow 12th grader Kellum also boasted a 10-6 mark in singles play for the C2D1 champions.
Alice Mansell, Jackson
Mansell, a senior, joined the Indians as a junior. In her final year in high school. Mansell was the Tribe’s top singles player with a mark of 9-7.