Pembroke Hill tennis player Yurie Heard called it the best weekend of the year.
“It is probably the best weekend in a lot of years,” Heard said after capturing the Class 1 singles championship Saturday at the 2014 Missouri Girls Tennis Championships at the Cooper Tennis Complex.
Heard was a major cog in the first team championship for the Raiders in nine years on Thursday and followed that up with a dominant four matches in the individual portion of the tournament Friday and Saturday. Heard lost just eight total games in the four matches and capped the tournament with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Riley Clarke of Villa Duchesne in the championship match Saturday afternoon.
“Winning as a team Thursday was awesome,” Heard said. “It took everybody’s effort to do something we hadn’t done since 2005. I thought there was more pressure on me individually in singles.”
She responded on the biggest stage of high school tennis.
“I have had success in the (USTA) Missouri Valley, but this is a lot different,” Heard said. “I know most of the girls in the Valley, and here I played a lot of players I didn’t know.”
Heard finished third at state in singles as a freshman and took her sophomore season off to concentrate on competitive tennis.
“I was really nervous playing here when I was a freshman,” Heard said. “But it was a lot different this year. I was relaxed and determined to win state. That was my ultimate goal.”
Heard said that she expects to return to high school tennis for her senior season.
“We had a junior-dominated team and I feel we have a chance to do some more special things again next year,” she said. “I would like to be a part of that.”
The Raiders fell just short of capturing the triple crown of high school tennis, which is winning the state team, singles and doubles championships.
The doubles team of Cindy Wang and Ellison Rooney won the first set of their championship match against Clayton’s Connor Cassity and Cameron Freeman and were a game away from capturing the second set and the match with a 5-4 lead. But Cassity and Freeman won the final three games of the set and then raced out to a 5-0 lead in the third set.
But Wang and Rooney did not go down without an epic fight. They won the next four games, saving a match point in the process, before Cassity had an overhead winner on match point to give the two Greyhound seniors their championship. They had beaten Wang and Rooney in the semifinals at state last year, only to fall in the finals.
Notre Dame de Sion fell just short of winning a team championship Thursday, falling 5-4 in the semifinals to eventual champion Rock Bridge.
But it was a happy ending for the Storm’s top two players as Michaela Henne and Margo Gerke won the Class 2 doubles championship with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Logan Morrissey and Camryn Parnell of Lee’s Summit North in the title match.
It was the rubber match of the three between the area doubles powers.
“We were disappointed Thursday because we came so close,” said Henna, a senior. “I enjoyed being able to play on a team throughout high school, since tennis is usually an individual sport. It’s an amazing feeling to win the doubles with Margo. I think our chemistry is great, which is a main reason we came out on top. I thought one of the keys today was using the wind to our advantage.”
The elusive championship was the first for Henne, who finished third in singles as a freshman and fifth in doubles as a sophomore.
“It was so fun to go out with Michaela and win a state title,” Gerke said. “I think a lot of our success has to do with the fact that we think a lot alike on the court.”
Liberty’s doubles team of Cassidy Paul and Gretchen Ohlhausen, who had a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals Friday, ended the tournament with a victory. They defeated Chloe Clement and Natalie Thimgan of Staley in the seventh-place match (the top eight finishers in singles and doubles earn state medals).
Park Hill South’s Adele Royle was the lone area medalist in Class 2 singles. She finished eighth, falling in three sets in her seventh-place match to Allie Thomas of Webster Groves.
Lafayette’s Caroline Pozo captured the Class 2 singles championship. Pozo, who finished second last year while at St. Joseph’s Academy, defeated Risa Takenaka of Francis Howell North, 6-4, 6-1 in the title match. Takenaka was the 2012 state champion.