SPRINGFIELD -- Five area tennis players qualified for the 2001 Girls Tennis Championships, which will take place Thursday through Saturday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
Sikeston's Elizabeth Killion will compete in the state singles tournament, while Charleston teams of Britt Story-Courtney McClendon and Emily McDowell-Mindi Luehmann will play in the doubles tournament.
Killion qualified for state by placing second in the 1A-3A district singles tournament.
"We're really proud to have her represent our team at state," said Sikeston coach Suzanne Hart. "I think she's very fortunate as a sophomore to be playing at this level, this early in her high school career. She gives 100 percent all the time and goes the extra mile to play in winter leagues, go to camps and take lessons. She's very deserving of this."
Seeds will be given out at 8 a.m. on Friday morning for the singles tournament. Action will begin immediately after.
"I think this experience will play a big part in her career," said Hart. "She gets to see some excellent tennis and play against people who have been there before. I think she will do well, but either way, it's going to be a good learning experience for her."
As Sikeston's No. 1 player this year, Killion finished with a record of 11-4 in the regular season. She went 3-1 in districts.
* With the two doubles teams, Charleston is sending four of its six varsity players to state.
"I'm proud of them all," said Charleston coach Mitch Baker. "They worked really hard and they deserve everything that comes their way. This was their goal the whole year."
Britt Story and Courtney McClendon qualified for state by winning the 1A-3A district doubles tournament. Emily McDowell and Mindi Luehmann also qualified by finishing second.
"Britt and Courtney are probably the more athletic of the two teams, but Emily and Mindi play more strategic doubles," said Baker. "They've had to adapt with injuries. Mindi has been playing hurt most of the year, and Emily has been hurt the last two or three weeks."
All Charleston qualifiers are seniors, with the exception of Luehmann, who is a two-time state qualifier as a junior.
"This has been a good group of seniors," said Baker.
"Honestly, I considered stepping down from coaching, but I couldn't quit with this group. I've really become attached to them, and have taught them since first grade. I've known them since they were five years old."
This year Story and McClendon compiled a record of 15-2 as a team. McDowell and Luehmann finished up 11-1. Both teams will find out who they will play when they arrive at the tennis complex Thursday. The doubles tournament will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday.
While excited about competing at state, both Baker and his players realize the task at hand.
"We are very realistic," said Baker. "We know the kind of competition we're going to see when we get up there. Hopefully we can get a good draw first round or second round, and good things will happen. But like I told the girls, anything after districts is gravy. We're extremely happy just to get there. There are a lot of people in the state that would love to get this chance."