Five Bruins advance to tennis semifinals

Saturday, October 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:14 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SPRINGFIELD-- A day after a disappointing third-place finish in the team competition, several Rock Bridge tennis players had little problem advancing through the first day of the individual tournament.

Kara Hickey in singles, and the teams of Kirsten Stople and Sarah Seltsam, and Karla Kruse and Whitney Reys all went 2-0 to advance to the semifinals on Saturday.

Hickey will try to make history by becoming the first singles player from Columbia to win a state title. By making the semifinals she is guaranteed to be the first medalist since former teammate Stephanie Smarr in 2001, and the highest finish since Bruin Elly Swetz got fourth in 1999, of any Columbia competitor.

Wet courts delayed Friday's play two hours, but coach Ben Loeb was happy with his players' showing once they got going.

"They showed good resiliency coming off of a disappointing day, yesterday," Loeb said. "They had good energy out there."

The Reys/Kruse team beat Hazelwood Central's doubles 6-0, 6-1 and then Kirkwood 6-1, 6-3. Seltsam and Stople defeated Fort Zumwalt West 6-0, 6-1 and Oakville 6-0, 6-0.

"I think we played really well today," Kruse said of her and Reys' efforts. "Last year I didn't place, I missed it by one spot, so it's exciting (to know we will medal)."

Kara Hickey notched a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Jessica Kassing of Francis Howell and then a 6-0, 6-4 win against Melissa Hoffmeister of Joplin in windy conditions at Cooper Tennis Complex.

While her opponents couldn't slow her down, Hickey's left leg did. Still recovering from a groin injury suffered over two weeks ago, Hickey hurt her knee planting to cut a few days ago. Both ailments affect her left leg, and she grimaced noticeably at times on Friday.

Hickey says that it is most painful when she serves, as she drives off of her left leg, but that she doesn't expect it to affect her game on Saturday.

Play starts at 9 a.m., and Hickey will face defending champ Kaitlin Dunham in the semis. The two met once before this season at the Pembroke Hill Tournament, with Hickey outlasting Dunham in a 3-hour match that went to a third set tiebreaker.

Hickey, already assured of becoming the third four-time medalist in Bruin history, can also become the fourth four-time title winner in state history with a first place finish.

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