Lady Bears Tennis Champs Place Third at State

Doubles team Kenna Cox and Taylor Reese placed third in the statewide MSHSAA tennis tournament on October 17. After placing first in the district tournament, the WSHS seniors were one of sixteen teams in Missouri to advance to the state tournament. 
According to Coach David Cox, the teams were matched by blind draw to determine their first competitors. Cox and Reese faced a doubles team from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Kansas City on October 16, and advanced to the second round to challenge an undefeated team from Marshall High School. The Lady Bears won in two out of three sets and moved on to compete for a spot in the top four. 
Their next opponent was another undefeated team from Villa Duchesne in St. Louis. Though the private school players won two out of three seats, our hometown players did win one set against them, the first set the Villa Duchesne players lost all season. 
In their final match of the tournament, Cox and Reese faced a team from Ursuline Academy in St. Louis for third place honors, and won. 
Reese told Howell County News that realizing she and Cox would be competing for a spot in the final four was, “very nerve wracking.”
“Going into the state tournament, I didn’t think we would make it that far,” Cox agreed. 
The girls have played tennis most of their high school careers, Cox for three years, and Reese for four, but Coach Cox said the two are a “perfect fit” for a doubles team. Each year they have played together, they have qualified for sectionals. 
The athletes’ personalities are well-matched, Coach Cox said, “They love each other. I’ve never seen them fight in three years. They have played so much doubles, they’re almost like the same person. They communicate on the court without saying a word. They’re the best doubles team I have ever coached.”
The pair are not only teammates, but also best friends. 
They share the distinction of being the highest-awarded tennis athletes in the history of Willow Springs High School, male or female. 
Their synchronicity was plain to see. When asked what it was like to compete against so many private schools from the biggest cities in the state, the girls answered with one voice, “Really intimidated.”
Reese explained that they did not play their best in the beginning, and Cox interjected, “But once we figured out we could play with them, it was kinda cool.”
The state competition drew the biggest crowd of supporters the athletes saw all year. Not only was their coach in attendance, but Principal Marty Spence, Athletic Director Robert James, family friends and boyfriends made the trip to cheer on the Lady Bears. 
“It was a huge crowd. They even got in trouble for being too loud,” Reese smiled. 
Cox is Coach Cox’s third daughter, and she said she loved having her dad with her throughout the season leading up to her big win. 
“It makes everything better to have him as a dad, but to get so far with your dad there with you was so great,” Cox said. 
As for Coach Cox, he praised the hard work the athletes put in not only during the season, but also in the off-season. 
“That’s what was exciting to me as a coach: to see two young ladies that put in the work be rewarded,” he said, “It’s nice to see kids who do things the right way to be rewarded.”
Cox and Reese received medals for their historic win and are focusing on their Senior Projects now that tennis season has drawn to a close.
by Amanda Mendez, publisher

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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