The Excelsior Springs High School tennis team has been waiting for the opportunity to prove its undefeated regular season is no fluke.
That time has come.
The Tigers will take on Pembroke Hill in a Class 1 sectional match at 9 a.m. Friday in Savannah, Mo. Pembroke Hill returns the bulk of a lineup from a team that placed third in the Missouri Class 1 state tournament last season.
“They are arguably the best team in the state,” Excelsior Springs coach Richie March said of the Tigers’ opponent. “Our kids are excited about the challenge.”
The Tigers have lived up to every challenge so far this season, winning all 17 matches on their schedule. They handed Lafayette County its third loss of the season to win the Class 1, District 14 championship last week.
Six of the top seven players in the team’s lineup are seniors. Several of those will be looking forward to the bounce-back opportunity in the team state tournament against Pembroke Hill, which has won five of the last six state championships in Class 1.
Two Excelsior Springs doubles teams were eliminated from the individual portion of the state tournament Monday when they lost their sectional matches.
Collin O’Connel and Kyle King were swept in straight sets Monday by Steven Ketchmark and Ben Abbas of The Barstow School. Excelsior Springs’ Austin Buck and Kyle Smith lost a three-set match Monday with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
At the Missouri Class 2 sectional tennis tournament, Liberty North will play host to unbeaten Lee’s Summit West at 9 a.m. Saturday. The winner will face the winner of Blue Springs South and Rockhurst.
Liberty North, 15-2, edged rival Liberty 5-4 last Thursday to win the Class 2, District 16 championship.
“It’s been great to see all the guys band together and focus on nothing more than reaching their potential as a team,” Eagles coach Art Smith said. “I think the key to getting to this point is just that our focus from day one has been to put ourselves in a position to be playing our best tennis at the end of the season when it counts most.
“We really tried to focus on the things we needed to do better the last couple of weeks so we could hopefully keep improving.”
Liberty North’s Elliott Wiskirchen won the Class 2, District 16 singles title.
Oak Park bowling
The Oak Park bowling team will compete in the state tournament Saturday in Union, Mo. It placed fifth in the Missouri Northwest zone to qualify for the 24-team meet.
The team consists of Dustin Gier, Hannah Rupard, Austin Curttright, Todd Perry, Mandy Miller and Kevin Curttright. It is coached by Howard Rupard, along with assistants Mike Laack and Paul Krezsyn.