FRONTENAC • The St. Joseph's tennis team is headed to the state tournament.
That would have not been news in past years, as the Angels went to 16 consecutive state team tournaments from 1993 to 2008. St. Joe's came home with the state championship in 12 of those seasons.
But the Angels have been absent from the state team tournament the last three years after being knocked out by Ladue.
St. Joe's is back after making quick work of Lafayette in the Class 2 quarterfinals Saturday at St. Joe's. The Angels did not lose a set in the completed matches in a 5-0 victory.
Ellie Bisig won the clincher at No. 3 singles over Abby Carpenter 6-1, 7-6. It was an especially satisfying win for Bisig and fellow seniors Taylor Revling and Grace Hyde.
"Taylor, Grace and I have been on varsity since we were freshmen and got knocked out by Ladue every year," Bisig said. "This is very emotional for all of us. We have wanted it for so long."
The Angels had beaten the Lancers 9-0 earlier in the season, but Bisig and her teammates were not taking anything for granted Saturday against a Lafayette team that was returning the bulk of its lineup from a team coming off a third-place finish at state last year.
"We did not want to be cocky," Bisig said. "We just wanted to keep the same kind of intensity we had before. I don't think anyone wants the pressure of being the last match on the court. There was pressure, but it is good pressure."
Hyde defeated Arianna Demos 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, while sophomores Olivia Conway, Ellie Helton and Kaki McDaniel lost a combined five games in sweeping the bottom half of the singles lineup. The match at No. 1 singles between Revling and Haleigh Chobanian was stopped after the clinching fifth win.
"We accomplished a big goal today, but we realize that the ultimate goal of winning a state title is still ahead," Angels coach Doug Smith said. "These seniors have been waiting for four years for this. We felt we had chances the last three years, especially when these seniors were freshmen. We had won five titles in a row and thought we could make it six until (No. 1 player) Misia (Kedzierski) broke her ankle in the postseason.
"We knew Lafayette was going to be loaded for bear today. Our girls responded accordingly."
Revling, Hyde and Bisig have all had great success in the individual portion of the state tournament. Smith feels that will be a plus at the team tournament, which is scheduled for Thursday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
"Those three have experienced the pressure cooker of what state is all about," Smith said. "I think they will do well and I believe the younger ones will handle the pressure as well."
The Angels enter state with a 16-0 dual record. They have also won three of the four tournaments in which they have competed (the Parkway Doubles, Pembroke Hill Invitational and Bloomington Purple Tournament). Their only blemish came in the championship match of the 16-team Bloomington Purple and Gold Tournament, as the Angels lost to Homewood-Flossmoor, an Illinois power.
St. Joseph's, which defeated Cor Jesu 5-0 in the sectional round Saturday morning (Lafayette defeated Jackson 5-0 in the other sectional match), will be the only St. Louis area team in the Class 2 tournament. Rock Bridge, which is the defending Class 2 team champion, defeated Incarnate Word 5-0 in the sectional round and Parkway North 5-0 in the quarterfinals Saturday.
Visitation took a big step in what it hopes will be a three-peat in Class 1. The Vivettes knocked off a solid Clayton team 5-1 and then disposed of Moberly 6-0.