The Rolla girls tennis team took part in the first annual Helias Invitational on Monday, Sept. 10. The Lady Bulldogs had a tremendous showing with a second place finish thanks to a dominant run in singles.
Rolla was unstoppable in singles, winning three of the four flights in the tournament. Olivia Burken won the top flight of the tournament by steamrolling her way through the bracket. She opened things up with an 801 win over Rebecca Hamm of Villa Duschesne, before an 8-1 win over Hickman's Abbie Tomaczec. She then won the flight by beating Helias' Eleanor Bax 8-4. Rylee Kriete then took care of business in the second flight. She started by beating Villa's Taryn Gough 8-3, before an 8-1 win over Hickman's Abby Harson. She had a tough match to finish the flight, beating Helias' Kylie Bernskoetter 8-6. Diya Allada had a great run in the third flight, but one loss put her in second place. She opened the third flight by beating Villa's Marie DelGiudere 8-3. Her lone loss came to Helias' Eleanor Schroeder 8-3, but finished her day with an 8-3 win over Addie Boes from Hickman. Faith Taylor then won the fourth flight for the Lady Bulldogs. She started with an 8-0 win over Hickman's Emma Tailor, before outlasting Villa's Camilla Delano 8-5. She capped off the flight with an 8-4 win over Brianna Nguyen of Helias to win the set.
The tournament was a two horse race for first overall because of doubles, which mirrored singles with one team winning three of the four flights. Helias won the top three flights, while Rolla won the final flight with the team of Anne Marie Bevis and Katelyn Sowers. The Rolla duo had their toughest challenge right out of the gate with a hard-fought 9-8 win thanks to a 7-5 tiebreaker over Hickman's duo of Merkson and Orr. They then beat Villa's Kleitz and Michalale 8-5, before capping off the flight with an 8-3 win over Helias' Wilber and Davis.
Helias was able to sneak past Rolla for first place with 27 points as a team. Rolla was four points behind with 23. Hickman came in third with 16 and Villa Duchesne. Rolla head coach Joe Schisler was thrilled with how his team performed.
"The team had a great day both I terms of getting some experience and in terms of results," said the Rolla head coach. "Our singles really shined and all our doubles girls competed well. We took had 12 players. Three seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. In many cases our younger girls were competing against older more experienced players, and that just showed in the course of doubles.
"Helias really did a great job running the tournament and competing. The difference ended up being their ability to win more second place matches," continued coach Schisler. "They are a great team, so we were excited to compete hard and keep the champion in doubt until the last match."
Rolla traveled to Camdenton for an Ozark Conference match on Tuesday, but results weren't available at press time. They will next host Smith-Cotton on Wednesday as they continue a busy week.