Rend Lake College sophomore Andrea Marcum (nee Carter) claimed the No. 5 singles consolation title at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division-II National Championships held recently at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Marcum, who is from Centralia, edged out the fifth-seeded Mandy Beynon of Collin County (TX) 8-6 to earn the title and become the best individual finisher for Coach Diane Metzger’s Lady Warriors in leading them to a 16th place overall finish in the 22-team double-elimination tennis tournament.
"Andrea played a great tournament," said Metzger.
Though Marcum dropped her opening-round match to the three-seed Alicia Sims of Wallace State (AL) 6-3, 6-3, she bounced back and won her next three to take the consolation title. She defeated Sara Boland of Young-Harris (GA), 8-3, before blanking Angie Shaw of Seminole State (OK),8-0, to get her to the title match.
In the No. 2 consolation finals, freshman Ashley Belcher of Olney came up short in her match, losing to Leigh Klingman of Young-Harris (AL) 8-1. To get there, she had a first-round bye, lost to the number three seed Amy Meeker of Wallace State, 6-3, 6-1. She then knocked off Seminole State’s (FL) Charity Johnson, 8-1 and Kim Fenwick of Sauk Valley (IL), 8-3 to reach the final round in the consolation bracket.
Hanson lost her bid to make it to the consolation finals, falling to Melissa Kimbriel of Meridian Community College (MS) in No. 6 singles action, 8-4. She bounced back after tough a opening-round loss to Becky Koochel of Barton County (KS), 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, which Metzger said she really had a chance to win in the second set. Next up for Hanson was Brandi Van Matre of Sauk Valley, who she beat soundly, 8-2, and Stephanie Rother of Lewis and Clark (IL), 8-2 before she was eliminated by Kimbriel.
RLC’s No. 1 Hays was eliminated after dropping matches to the 48-year old Karen Rauh of Elgin Community College (IL), 6-0, 6-1, and then to Erica Ramirez of Collin County, 8-2.
In No. 3 singles play, Hallam posted an opening-round 6-1, 7-5 win versus Holly Yearwood of Central Alabama before being shut out in two sets by Collin County’s Billie Blocker.
Ferris at No. 4 singles lost her first match to Ashley Matthews of Copiah-Lincoln Community College (MS) 6-0, 6-3; won 8-2 against Rebecca Gliesmann of Elgin CC and was then eliminated from the backdraw to Ann Foster of Hines County (MS) in an 8-4 decision.
In No. 2 doubles action, Hallam-Ferris lost their opening-round bid, 6-2, 6-1 to Sarah Hill and Brandi Wadley of Johnson County (KS) and bested Elgin’s Crystal Kamradt and Christine Mogul, 8-6 before bowing out in a loss to Birgit Daechert and Kayla Strange of Cowley County, 9-8 (8-6).
Falling in the quarters in No. 3 doubles competition to the top-seeded Elyse Jacques and Jamie Munger of Temple was the team of Marcum-Hanson, who lost 6-0, 6-0. The duet had won their first two matches by knocking off Joy DeWeese and Kim Price of Young-Harris in a 6-1, 6-4 triumph and Sauk Valley’s Brandi Van Matre and Stephanie Wegner, 6-1, 6-1 to advance them to the quarterfinals.
"This was the first time we had ever won two matches in the main draw," Metzger related, "so it was very exciting."
The No. 1 pairing of Belcher and Hays were quickly dispatched from doubles play, losing to Meridian’s Megan Chivas and Charlotte Heidelberg, 6-1, 6-1 and then being eliminated in an 8-5 decision to Lewis & Clark’s Melisa Cansado and Erin Sibley.
Metzger had hoped to improve upon last year’s 11th place overall finish in their national debut by breaking into the top ten, but the competition was too tough for the lady netters. Going into the tourney, the Lady Warriors were ranked 12th. They finished 16th with 11 total points, well behind champion Temple College (TX), who racked up an amazing 53 points, besting their closest contender by 14.
Temple took home championship trophies in Nos. 2-6 singles, with a runner-up at No. 1. In doubles, they grabbed the honors in Nos. 1 and 2, with a runner-up in the No. 3 pairing. Their coach Dick King also was awarded Coach of the Year accolades.
Still, the past two seasons have given Metzger a lot to be proud of, both individually and as a team.
Team laurels include a perfect 8-0 record during the fall regular season campaign, followed up with a first-ever NJCAA D-II Region XXIV Championship.
Individually the numbers aren’t too shabby either.
Individual records for the regular season include Hays, 4-4 at the extremely competitive No.1 singles position; Belcher, 6-2 at No. 2; undefeated Hallam, Ferris and Marcum, all 8-0, at Nos. 3-5, respectively; and Hanson, 7-1 at No. 6.
In October, en route to the Region XXIV Championship, Hallam, Ferris, Marcum and Hanson each won regional singles titles. Marcum and Hanson were the defending regional singles champs, both recording 9-1 records as frosh. Last year’s regional runner-up, Hays at 8-2, finished third this year in the top spot, while Belcher garnered second place honors for the RLC squad.
Last but certainly not least, in the doubles category, the lady netters amassed an impressive 23-1 combined record. The dynamic duos of Hay-Belcher at No. 1, Ferris-Hallam at No. 2 and Marcum-Hanson at No. 3 finished the regular season with records of 7-1, 8-0 and 8-0, respectively.
Four players won Region XXIV doubles titles, including the No. 2 and No. 3 pairings of Ferris-Hallam and Marcum-Hanson. The partnership of Marcum-Hanson is not a new one; the two played together last spring, finishing the season with a 9-1 record and wrapping it up with regional runner-up honors.
Last fall’s perfect finish is RLC’s best record to date, following last season’s previous all-time best of 7-2 and a 7-4 record in 2000.
The netter are not only stars on the court, but in the classroom as well, having received the academic award for having the highest collective grade point average of all Warrior athletic teams at the annual Rend Lake College Athletic Banquet held on May 8. Unfortunately, they were not able to accept their awards in person because of their appearance in the national tourney.
Not to be outdone, Coach Metzger in her eighth year with the RLC women’s tennis program, earned Region XXIV "Coach of the Year" honors. She is also a five-time Southern Illinois Women’s Senior "Player of the Year." Off the court, on May 9 at the annual Board/Faculty/Staff Dinner, Metzger received the Outstanding Faculty Award from RLC President Mark S. Kern.