Bruins win racquetball national title
|Team (top 5)||Score|
|2. Lindbergh, MO|
|4. Cor Jesu Academy, MO|
|5. Lafayette, MO|
Barlow High racquetball coach Brian Ancheta was in for a surprise when they started listing the team scores following last weekend's high school nationals hosted by Multnomah Athletic Club.
The tournament announcer started with the 10th-place team and worked his way up the ladder like a rocket launch.
"They posted sheets on the windows all weekend long and people kept coming up saying 'Hey, look where we are at'," Ancheta said. "I'm not a numbers guy like that. I didn't want to look. By the time they got to No. 4 and I hadn't heard our name yet, I figured we must have gotten fourth or maybe third."
Instead, it was Cor Jesu Academy out of St. Louis in fourth and Beaverton High in third place.
"They announced second place Lindbergh out of Missouri, and that's when I knew we had gotten first," Ancheta said. "The next thing I hear is 'Come on up and get your trophy' — it was a great feeling."
Barlow finished on top of the tally with 2,095 points — more than 200 ahead of Lindbergh.
The Bruins were powered by world-class player Annie Roberts, who capped her high school career by repeating as national champion in the gold-level singles bracket.
Roberts steam-rolled through the bracket, outscoring her four opponents by a combined score of 120-46 and winning all of her matches in straight sets. That included a 15-3, 15-11 win over Heather Mahoney out of Casa Grande High in California — a three-time World Champion in younger age classes.
"They are never in the same age group, so Annie doesn't see her much, but we knew it was going to be a war," Ancheta said. "Annie had just finished the doubles final when she was called to the court. She was tired, but she mentally gutted it out. She's one amazing athlete."
Roberts routinely went to a slower lob serve in the final, throwing her opponent off with superior placement of the ball, which put Roberts in position for repeated finishing shots.
"That's one of her best serves, and Heather didn't have an answer for it," Ancheta said. "When Annie gets a good set up off the back wall, she is consistent with it."
Roberts and teammate Kelsey Klinger repeated as national champs in the doubles draw.
The duo outscored their opponents 120-44, finishing with a 15-8, 15-11 win over Arya and Esha Cyril out of Quarry Lane Prep out of California. The duo battled back from 9-3 down in the second set to sweep the title match.
"They just play well together and know each other's strengths," Ancheta said. "They do a good job keeping the ball in play and letting the rallies happen."
Barlow's Chloe Hilstenteger won all three of her bouts in straight sets to claim the No. 5 singles bracket. Her biggest challenge came in the semifinals with a 15-14, 15-9 victory over Meg Ortwerth out of Lindbergh High in Missouri.
"Chloe has been playing well all year, and she kept getting stronger as the tourney went on," Ancheta said. "She was hitting perfect passing shots down the wall all week long."
Shelby Levens reached the semifinals in the No. 3 singles draw, outscoring her first two opponents by a combined count of 60-18, while Emma Corvese scored a three-set win over teammate Katie Bain to reach the semifinals in No. 6 singles.
Barlow's Amanda Myrhow and Katrina Klatt put together five consecutive wins to claim the No. 3 doubles consolation bracket. Three of their matches went the distance, including a 15-14, 10-15, 11-2 decision in the finale. The duo survived an 11-10 third set in their second match of consolation play.
"For us to win the team competition it took an accumulation of points throughout the week," Ancheta said. "The girls stepped up and just kept playing the whole weekend."
Other members of the championship team are Natalie Faulkner, Elizabete Berzina, Courtney Kristan, Mara White, McKenna Greene and Senny Scherler.
The day ended with Ancheta presenting Roberts with a 2020 Scholar-Athlete award, only to to called back to the stage.
"I handed the microphone to Annie and started walking back to my seat when she said 'Now, it's my turn to give an award to you' — everything was coming our way," Ancheta said.
Ancheta was named the National Coach of the Year.
Sandy's Madison Krening scored a 15-11, 15-7 win to advance to the quarterfinals of the No. 2 singles bracket, while Madison Bender picked up a 15-7, 15-9 victory to reach the quarterfinals in No. 4 singles.
This story is scheduled for our March 11, print edition.
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