Shawnee Mission West’s Josephine Cao gained her biggest motivation during the recent high school girls tennis season from a match she hoped she would never have to play.
Her opponent was her sister, Katherine, and the state tournament semifinal winner would advance to a spot in the Kansas Class 6A state championship match. Josephine won 6-1, 6-3, and one sentence from her sister during their postmatch meeting at the net resonated with Josephine.
Katherine Cao simply said: “Good job. Now don’t lose.”
Josephine delivered, beating Shawnee Mission East’s Sarah Wilcox 6-3, 6-0, for the state singles title. It was Cao’s second state title for the Vikings. She and Katherine won the doubles championship in 2014.
Josephine, The Star’s All-Metro girls tennis player of the year, entered the fall season after having decided to branch out on her own in singles competition.
The result? She won the state title and posted a 22-1 overall record.
“At first, I was really against playing singles because me and my sister wanted to play together,” Cao said. “I guess it worked out for me because I won. But I really like playing with her.”
Cao carried an undefeated record into the regional tournament, where she lost to Blue Valley North’s Chloe Kuckelman. But it didn’t derail the mission to win the state title for Cao, who also won the Sunflower League singles title and is headed to play tennis at the University of Memphis.
The Star’s All-Metro girls tennis team
Josephine Cao, Shawnee Mission West, senior. She won the Kansas Class 6A singles championship and lost just once during the season, finishing with a 22-1 record. At the Kansas state tournament, she dropped just seven games in four matches.
Margo Gerke, Notre Dame de Sion, junior. Gerke’s 35-2 season record included three key tournament victories — Pembroke Hill, St. Thomas Aquinas and Wichita. She finished fifth in the Missouri Class 2 state tournament.
Logan Morrissey, Lee’s Summit North, senior. Morrissey, a four-time all-state selection, finished fourth at the Missouri Class 2 state tournament, the top showing for a Kansas City-area player. She was 26-5 in singles and 18-1 in doubles.
Alexa Tiefel, Blue Valley, senior. Tiefel, the Eastern Kansas League champion, lost just once during the regular season and finished fifth at the Kansas Class 6A tournament. She will play collegiately at Coastal Carolina University.
Barstow (Janie King, junior and Amelia Smith, junior). King and Smith paired up three weeks into the season and finished 16-2, winning the Missouri Class 1 state championship. They dropped the first set of their state championship match, but fought back to win Barstow’s fifth doubles title in nine years.
Blue Valley North (Evelyn Chang, sophomore and Karen Yan, junior). Chang and Yan led the Mustangs to the Kansas Class 6A team title with a 27-1 record. They dropped just 11 games in four matches on their way to winning the state doubles title.