Dina Kaissi had trouble falling asleep Thursday night because she was thinking about playing in the Class 2 MSHSAA Singles Championship.
She had trouble getting started in her first match Friday because she was thinking about playing in the state final. Kaissi fell behind 5-4 before pausing to right herself.
“I was really nervous, because I was thinking of the big picture, because I was thinking about the finals,” said Kaissi, a senior on the Hickman tennis team, via phone. “That was putting a lot of pressure on me.”
Opponents scored only two more points in her next three matches. Kaissi won 7-5, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals and 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals on Friday.
“It seemed after she won the first set, she got an awesome amount of confidence,” Kewpies coach Andrew Materer said. “She started hitting winners in the baseline. She was easy, relaxed. She carried that confidence over.”
Kaissi finished fifth at last year’s state competition. She next plays at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
“It’s a good feeling,” Kaissi said. “I’ve never made it this far in state. I know if I play my game, I’ll get to finals. It’s scary because I’m so close.”
Rock Bridge found things a bit more challenging on Friday, one day after losing to Ladue Horton Watkins in the team championship 5-0.
Junior Kelsey Kinderknecht lost her first match 6-2, 6-1 before winning a tense 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 match to advance to the consolation semifinals. She can finish in sixth place with one win or fifth place with two wins.
Sisters Abby and Maddy Kayser lost their first two matches, which eliminated them from doubles competition. Sarah Heeter and Alice Mends won their first doubles match, lost their second and won their third in a 6-3, 6-2 over a team from Park Hill High School.
They open play on Saturday with a match against a doubles team that defeated the Kaysers. Heeter and Mends can finish in sixth place with one win or fifth place with two wins.
“We’re very proud of that (our record),” Bruins coach Ben Loeb said. “We’re 27-1. You gotta look at the big picture. We were disappointed, but we can take away pride coming in second in state. That’s better than many would’ve expected of us.”