Central faces Kirkwood in sectional

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Central needed the minimum five matches to cruise by Lindbergh in the regional round of the Class 2 girls tennis playoffs on Tuesday.

Juniors Sarah Ford and Lindsey Pingel provided three of those wins by winning at No. 1 doubles and each posting singles wins. In order to get by sectional host Kirkwood today, Central expects its depth to be put to the test.

"I told my players it's not like that from here on out," Central coach Annette Slattery said of Tuesday's win. "We had played Lindbergh and had a feel for them. I felt really confident going into that match."

Central and Kirkwood will play at 9:30 a.m. today at Kirkwood Park. Nerinx Hall and Parkway South will face off in the other sectional, and the winners will play in the quarterfinals later today.

Christen Edmonds, Kristen Ford, Claire Segar and Carsen Bahn have completed the varsity lineup throughout the season and were an integral part of an undefeated dual season.

Edmonds, a sophomore, has teamed with senior Kristen Ford in doubles, and seniors Segar and Bahn have made up the third doubles team. All three doubles teams won against Lindbergh.

"You need your No. 6 player to do just as well as your No. 1," Slattery said. "You have to be deep and sound in all your strokes top to bottom. We have three seniors playing Nos. 4, 5 and 6. I feel good about that. They've played more matches. They have experience under their belts."

Central is vying for its first final four appearance since 1995.

"Right now we're in the top 16, and if we win one we're in the top eight," Slattery said. "But we're looking to go further than that."

Kirkwood beat Ursuline Academy 5-0 to advance to the sectional round. Rachel Stuhlmann and the doubles team of Jen Mutrux and Lauren Kuklu each finished second in district play to move on to the state tournament for Kirkwood, which finished a point ahead of Nerinx Hall for the district team title.

Sarah Ford and Pingel won their second straight doubles district title to help Central finish second to Parkway South in Class 2 District 1. Edmonds got to the singles semifinals as an unseeded player before falling to the top seed.

"I would still say we're probably considered an underdog," Slattery said. "In St. Louis, you'll face better competition all year long. You just don't know how you'll stack up until you get there."

The team semifinals and final will be played Thursday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield. State singles and doubles play will begin on Friday.

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