Central's doubles ousted on long day

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It was a long day in more ways than one Friday for Central tennis players Dani Gross, Monica Toole, Sarah Ford and Lindsey Pingel at the Class 2 state tournament in Springfield, Mo.

The four Central players were scheduled to begin their doubles play in the individual portion of the tournament at 10:15 a.m., but they did not get on the courts until after 2 p.m. because of weather delays. A persistent cold mist prevented play from beginning as scheduled, and when action began the temperature was around 50 degrees.

"It was anything but a routine situation," Central coach Annette Slattery said. "What do you do when you are waiting around?"

Gross and Pingel decided to watch a movie -- "The Amityville Horror" -- at the hotel, while Ford and Toole tried to get some extra sleep.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their stay in Springfield was limited to the one day, which lasted well into the night.

The Tigers won just one of their five matches at the Class 2 tournament.

"It was a little disappointing with the weather and all," Slattery said. "But the weather is all part of tennis. You have to learn to adapt.

"But anytime you end your season with players at the state tournament, it was to be considered a success. The two seniors gave it their best shot, and they were not timid at all with their play. And the two sophomores gained valuable experience against real good competition, and they said they will be back next year."

Sophomores Ford and Pingel, who were the District 1 doubles champions, had the lone win at state for Cape Central. They won their first-round match against Kelsey Gilbert and Natalie Ingram of Springfield Glendale, 6-1, 6-4.

They lost in straight sets in the second round to Erin Bales and Kelsey Beck of Blue Springs and then fell in the consolation round in straight sets against Julia Grawe and Erin Jamison of St. Joseph's Academy, which had won the Class 2 team championship on Thursday.

"It was freezing out there, and windy," Ford said. "But we still had a lot of fun. It was great to win that first match. It helped that we were the district champions. We had hoped to finish in the top eight, but the top 12 is not bad. And we plan to be back next year."

There will be no next year for Gross and Toole, who have been four-year players for the Tigers. Gross had played in the state tournament last year with Sarah's sister, Brett. This was the first trip to state for Toole, whose father, Adrian, played in the state meet with Central in the 1970s.

They lost to Maddie Keller and Franny McShane of St. Teresa's Academy in the first round and also were eliminated by Grawe and Jamison in the consolation bracket.

"There were a few tears shed after that last match," Gross said. "I enjoyed so much playing high school tennis.

"And we have no regrets the way we played in that last match. We played really well."

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