Rock Bridge’s Sarah Seltsam will carry the first-place District 5 Tournament plaque to school Monday.
The Bruins’ tennis won the District 5 Tournament on Saturday at Bethel Park with 37 1/2 points, bettering Rolla, which scored 25½. . Both teams advance to sectional competition Saturday at Bethel Park.
Bruins coach Ben Loeb said Seltsam deserved the honor of bringing the plaque to school because she is an example of what has made Rock Bridge tennis successful.
Seltsam was down 2-5 in the first set and bounced back to defeat Jefferson City’s Jennifer Englehardt 7-6 (7-1), 6-1.
“Her attitude, perseverance and hard work all day just shows what Rock Bridge tennis and the team spirit is all about,” Loeb said. “She has improved every year that she has been on the team through hard work.”
Rock Bridge (14-1) and Rolla (12-0) fans were so focused on the competition after 11 hours at the tournament that cheering came only after points were scored when Rolla’s Eliana Ferciniti defeated Seltsam in the consolation finals match. The crowds took turns cheering between serves, as the opponents matched point for point in Ferciniti’s 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 victory.
Seltsam said she tried not to take her opponents for granted and her team’s support helped motivate her.
“Well, my team is great and just staying focused whether you are ahead or behind,” Seltsam said. “You’ve got to take an inch from your opponents when they let you.”
Senior Stephanie Smarr set a state record for most career singles wins at 107. Smarr defeated Smith-Cotton’s Lila Weaver 6-0, 6-0 for her record-breaking 105th win. Smarr’s teammates and Kristen Kornegay, who set the record with 104 wins in 2002, congratulated Smarr.
“It’s exciting for her, but she’s not one to brag about it,” the Bruins’ Ashley Miles said.
Loeb said the record is a great feat and he hopes that Smarr can continue with quality wins through the postseason.
“She’s done it quietly which is in her style and everyone is happy for her including Kristen Kornegay,” Loeb said.
Camdenton’s Melissa Divincen is the only player not from Rock Bridge to advance to the state competition for the second consecutive year. Smarr defeated Divincen 5-0, (retired) in the singles finals match.
The Bruins’ Kara Hickey and Whitney Reys defeated teammates Karla Kruse and Miles 6-3, 6-0 in the doubles finals match. Both doubles teams will advance to the state finals competition in Springfield on Oct. 23.
Hickman (8-7) tied Helias for seventh place with nine points. Coach Jerry Price said the Kewpies’ finish didn’t reflect his team’s hard work.
“The team played better at the end of the season with a lot of improvement,” Price said. “It didn’t show with the final points, but we had a very difficult draw in the first round, which made it hard to accumulate points.”
The Kewpies were eliminated in a second round match that lasted more than two hours. Senior tandem Erin Onofrio and Lauren Brucks lost 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to Smith-Cotton’s Rosie Short and Kara Warring.
“We are both seniors and this was the last match of our career so we wanted to play well,” Onofrio said.
Sectional competition will be held Saturday at Bethel Park.