Kara Hickey won’t be seeking her fourth consecutive doubles championship.
Instead, the Rock Bridge senior is trying to become the first state singles champion from Columbia.
Hickey began her quest by winning the Class 2 District 5 singles title, as the Bruins won the team competition in a landslide Saturday.
The beginning of its state playoff pursuit marked the end of the road for Hickman. The Kewpies finished in third with 19 points, trailing Jefferson City’s 21 1/2 and host Rock Bridge’s 36 1/2. The top two will play in a sectional next Saturday.
“It never gets old,” Bruins coach Ben Loeb said of his team’s sixth consecutive district title. “It’s not easy, and to have the kids putting in the common effort to be as good as they can be is great to see..”
Loeb said he told Hickey after last year’s state championship he thought it was time to test herself against the best. Still, Hickey said the decision, which wasn’t announced until right before the tournament, wasn’t easy.
“I think it’s just something I had to do,” Hickey said. “Singles is definitely a challenge, and it’s a challenge I want to take. I’ve won doubles the last three years; I think its time that I need to try to prove myself.”
Hickey didn’t lose a game until her third match, a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Hickman’s Katie Glenn, before defeating the Jays’ Jennifer Engelhardt 6-1, 6-0 for the championship.
The day’s best battle pitted Bruins against Bruins. Kirsten Stople and Sarah Seltsam, Rock Bridge’s No. 2 doubles team, bested teammates Karla Kruse and Whitney Reys 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 for the title. Both teams advance to the state tournament.
Hickman coach Jerry Price said he was proud of his team’s showing, pointing to Glenn’s third place in singles, and Amy Trae and Kirsten Seaberg’s fourth in doubles, despite a difficult tournament draw.
“We didn’t necessarily come in here with the idea we were going to be battling it out for qualifying for sectionals, yet when that happened it became much more exciting,” Price said. “We really were one match away from qualifying.”
— Drew Bruno