Thomas Jefferson Cavaliers finish fourth in Class 2 tennis tournament

On October 20th, the Thomas Jefferson Cavaliers’ girls tennis team faced a disappointing 6-0 loss to the Grain Valley Eagles in the semifinals of the 2023 Class 2 Tennis Championships at Springfield’s Cooper Tennis Complex. This loss set up a third-place match between the Cavaliers (14-2) and Webster Groves (15-1), both of whom had been undefeated leading up to the championships.

In the semifinals, TJ’s doubles team comprising of senior Allison Ding and junior Jeanna Jeyaraj encountered a close match, ultimately losing 9-7 to Grain Valley’s Finley LaForge and Kylee Bragaw.

Cavalier juniors Warda Morsy and Mayson Solum also suffered defeat in their doubles match against Grain Valley’s Catherine Barnes and Delaney Thurn, with a final score of 8-5. Despite making an impressive comeback from a 7-1 deficit, the TJ duo fell just short of victory.

In another doubles match, siblings Kyla Yang and Esther Yang from Thomas Jefferson faced an 8-2 defeat against Grain Valley’s Emma Thiessen and Brooklyn Spencer.

Esther Yang, a freshman, experienced her first loss of the season with a score of 6-4, 6-0 in her singles match against Thiessen, a senior at Grain Valley.

Morsy also suffered her first defeat this year, losing her singles match to Grain Valley’s Spencer with a score of 6-0 and 6-2.

Jeyaraj lost her No. 2 singles match 6-1, 6-1 to Bragaw.

The Cavaliers then faced off against the Webster Groves Statesmen in the third-place matchup. The Statesmen had previously fallen 5-0 in the semifinals to eventual state champion Ladue Horton Watkins (17-2). Webster Groves had lost all three doubles matches to Ladue (8-0, 8-1, and 8-2) before also suffering defeat in their singles matches (6-0, 6-0, and 6-1, 6-1).

In their third-place matchup, the Cavaliers got off to a strong start, winning all three doubles matches in close battles. However, they ultimately fell short with a final score of 5-4 after losing five out of six singles matches.

Similar to their semifinal match, the doubles team of Morsy and Solum found themselves facing a 6-2 deficit early on. However, this time the Cavaliers prevailed with a 9-7 win over Webster Grove’s Katherine Dirks and Milly Benkelman.

TJ earned its second team point after another close match, with the Yang sisters securing an 8-6 win over Elena King and Regan Matteotti.

In another doubles match, Thomas Jefferson’s lone senior, Allison Ding, and Jeyaraj played to an 8-8 tie with Webster Groves’ Addison Simpson and Margaret Nakatani, necessitating a seven-point tiebreaker. After a nail-biting tiebreaker, TJ emerged victorious with a final score of 9-8.

With a 3-0 lead heading into the singles matches, Webster Groves fought back to win the first three matches, tying the team score at 3-3. Morsy experienced a 6-1, 7-5 defeat against Nakatani, while Esther Yang fell 6-2, 6-3 to Dirks. Solum’s match ended in a 6-7, 6-3, 10-6 loss to Benkelman, resulting in a 3-3 tie.

Kyla Yang’s 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 tiebreaker win over Hannah Sweeney in the singles put TJ in the lead with a team score of 4-3. However, Webster Groves’ Addison Simpson outlasted Ding with final scores of 6-4, 7-5 in their singles match, resulting in a 4-4 tie.

With one match left to decide the third-place winner, all eyes were on TJ’s Jeyaraj and Webster Groves’ King. Jeyaraj took the first set with a score of 6-4 but fell in the second set 6-1, setting up a thrilling decisive third set. King ultimately prevailed 12-10 in the tiebreaker, securing Webster Groves the third-place hardware.

TJ coach Tom Brumfield expressed his sentiments about bidding farewell to Ding, the team’s lone senior.

“She’s part of the family,” he said. “She’s one of those players that you always hate to lose. You can’t replace her. I have been lucky and fortunate enough to coach both her and her brother, Ian.”

Brumfield also commented on the parity between TJ and Webster Groves.

“That’s what you get into,” Brumfield said. “We knew there wasn’t going to be any easy matchup here. But we proved that we belong and we fought hard. The last match was a tremendous battle that could have gone either way.”


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