The pressure could not have been any greater.
One set would determine whether Kirkwood freshman Bridget Mayfield would head to the state tournament in Springfield.
Facing St. Joseph's Olivia Conway on Tuesday in a winner-take-all Class 2 Sectional 2 match at St. Joe's, Mayfield took the first set 6-4, but Conway jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second set and held on to win it 6-4.
"I just thought about what my goal from the start of the season was, and that was to make it to state," Mayfield said. "I refocused and started to play my game. I usually like the pressure."
Mayfield won the next five games and eventually the set 6-1. She thus qualifies for the individual state tournament, which will be held Oct. 19-20 at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo.
"She just listens so well, which is unusual for a freshman," Kirkwood coach Janet Verbarg said of Mayfield. "She has taken a lot of lessons and puts in a lot of time on the court. Tennis is her thing."
Mayfield only has three losses on the season. Two have come against 2010 state champion Lindsey Whitehead of Ladue. The other came against Lafayette's Haleigh Chobanian, who was a state singles medalist last year.
"I have played a lot of the girls who will be at state through the years, and I just plan to treat it as a normal tournament," Mayfield said. "I will probably be nervous the first couple of games of the first match but should be fine after that."
Whitehead, who did not play high school tennis last fall after her championship in 2010, also advanced in singles from Sectional 2 with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Anna Sieckhaus of Cor Jesu. St. Joseph's qualified both of its doubles teams (Taylor Revling/Ellie Bisig and Grace Hyde/Ellie Helton).
In other area girls tennis sectionals...
• Class 2 Sectional 1: Lafayette had a dominating performance, as Chobanian and Adrienne Demos qualified in singles and Abby Carpenter and Kelly Carpenter qualified in doubles. They lost just three total games in three matches.
• Class 2 Sectional 3: It was a District 6 sweep in their sectional crossover matches with District 5, as Francis Howell North's Risa Takenaka and Parkway Central's Elaine Chen advanced in singles, while Bianca Gavaller and Emily McCarter of Parkway North and Parkway Central's Joy Yang and Amanda Truong won in doubles.
• Class 2 Sectional 4: Fort Zumwalt East's Janet Auclair prevented a Rock Bridge sweep. A transfer from Kirkwood, Auclair won in three sets over Emily Shaw to qualify for state.
• Class 1 Sectional 3: The Cassity sisters from Clayton both will be competing at state, although not together. Carly Cassity advanced in singles, while her sister, Connor, did so in doubles with Caroline Greenberg after a straight-set win over Marielle Newell and Jana Haikal of Visitation. Visitation advances its other doubles team of Jocelyn Koester and Brianna Menolascino. Principia's Meg Anderson also advanced.
• Class 1 Sectional 1: Windsor's Pauline Thieule had a big three-set win over Baylee Cooper of Dexter.
• Class 1 Sectional 2: DuBourg's Laura Engel advanced in singles with a three-set win, while Rebecca Canino and Dorothy Bohac won in doubles. Lutheran South qualified Jessica Rakers in singles and Emily Brown and Alissa Holthe in doubles.
• Class 1 Sectional 4: St. Dominic's Nicole Savant was the lone player to qualify from Sectional 4. She advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 singles win over Katie Matheis of Moberly.