SPRINGFIELD — Turns out Ellie Sorgenfrei was just getting started when she closed out Nixa’s 5-4 Class 3 District 5 semifinal win against Springfield Catholic on Tuesday with a three-set win at No. 3 singles.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to top that,” the Lady Eagles senior said.
Sorgenfrei was a savior again in the District final Wednesday. Her 7-5, 6-2 triumph at No. 2 singles clinched Nixa’s first District championship in eight years, as the Lady Eagles knocked off No. 1 seed Kickapoo 5-3.
It's Nixa first-ever wins against both Catholic and Kickapoo.
“I think I will remember this the rest of my life,” Sorgenfrei said. “We were nervous we wouldn’t be able to do this. We weren’t sure about all the matches.”
Nixa was down one set to Kickapoo in the other singles match that was still being played when Sorgenfrei prevailed.
Sorgenfrei obviously thrived playing under pressure.
“It was crazy and very intense. It’s exciting, but kind of scary at the same time when it’s all on you,” she said. “But I like the pressure.”
Sorgenfrei won her singles match against Catholic by pulling out a 10-8 victory in the third set.
Sorgenfrei’s backhand and play at the net stood out.
“It’s easier for me to trust my backhand,” she said. "From the very start, I trusted my backhand. It usually gives me a lot of points. I like to attack at the net a lot. I try to hit it deep and as soon as I hit it deep enough, I go up to the net.”
Nixa freshman Emily Peterson won at No. 6 singles 6-2, 6-4 against Kickapoo and teamed with Jocelyn Cosgrove to win at No. 3 doubles 8-3.
Peterson joined the Lady Eagles after surprising herself over the summer by choosing tennis over volleyball.
“It was probably up to this point in my life right now the hardest decision I’ve made,” Peterson said. “I never thought I would actually pick tennis because volleyball and been the main sport I was focusing on. But I wanted to try something new and see what kind of potential I have in tennis.”
It didn’t take Peterson long to receive confirmation she had made the right choice.
"During challenge matches (in pre-season practices) when I made varsity I realized that I did,” she said.
Peterson thinks her volleyball background as a setter set herself up for success in tennis.
"Setting (involves) a lot of footwork,” she said. “I think I can move my feet better in tennis because I was a setter.”
Peterson is 24-1 at No. 6 singles. Her first loss came against Catholic on Tuesday.
Peterson figures to make the jump to Nos. 1-3 singles next year.
"She’s a player you’re going to hear a lot about the next three years,” coach Brock Blansit said.
Nixa’s Abby Fulnecky was also a two-time winner against Kickapoo. She won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 singles and teamed with Arabella Cosgrove for an 8-2 victory at No. 1 doubles.
Cosgrove and Fulnecky did well by trying to keep Kickapoo’s No. 1 player, Brynley Brotherton, from being able to showcase her powerful forehand.
"We would try to lob it over the net person so she would have to run for it and that would kind of weaken her return,” Cosgrove said. “And also since she’s shorter, she maybe couldn’t get to the ball since it was a lob.”
Nixa advances to play at Liberty in Quarterfinal action on Monday.
Nixa 5, Kickapoo 3
No. 1 — (K) Brynley Brotherton def Arabella Cosgrove 6-0, 6-0
No. 2 — (N) Ellie Sorgenfrei def Rachel Schmieder 7-5, 6-2
No. 3 — (N) Abby Fulnecky def Kelsey Catlett 6-3, 6-3
No. 4 — (K) Leah Martin def Jocelyn Cosgrove 6-3, 6-4
No. 6 — (N) Emily Peterson def Summer Weems 6-2, 6-4
No. 1 — (N) A Cosgrove/A Fulnecky def Brotherton/Bowser 8-2
No. 2 — (K) Schmieder/Catlett def S Fulnecky/Sorgenfrei 8-4
No. 3 — (N) J Cosgrove/Peterson def Emily Robertson 8-3
Nixa 5, Catholic 4
No. 1 — (C) Lila Griesemer def Arabella Cosgrove 6-1, 6-1
No. 2 — (N) Sam Fulnecky def Caroline Nelson 6-2, 7-6 (7-1)
No. 3 — (N) Ellie Sorgenfrei def Hannah Lee 6-1, 7-5, 10-8
No. 4 — (N) Abby Fulnecky def Britney Ung 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 — (C) Julia Lee def Jocelyn Cosgrove 6-3. 6-3
No. 6 — (C) Rylee Starnes def Emily Peterson 6-3. 6-3. 10-8
No. 1 — (N) A Cosgrove/A Fulnecky def Griesemer/Lee 8-6
No. 2 — (C) Nelson/Ung def S Fulnecky/Sorgenfrei 8-2
No. 3 — (N) J Cosgrove/Peterson def Lee/Starnes 8-4