PEKIN — A rematch of last week’s Western Big 6 Conference singles title showdown played out Friday in the second round of the IHSA Class 2A Pekin Sectional.
And just like last week, Moline senior Monika Birski topped United Township junior Reese Williams. The fourth-seeded Birski worked for a 6-2, 6-3 decision over the fifth-seeded Williams to move into today’s semifinals in what proved to be a rubber-match for the season long series between the two standouts. That victory would have also qualified Birski for state for the fourth straight year had this year’s state tournament not been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.
With that decision, the singles bracket is stacked with the top four seeds when play resumes Saturday morning at 10. Birski, last year’s sectional singles runner-up, will face Normal Community’s top-seeded freshman Kruthi Sudhir in one semi. Sudhir (12-0) beat Birski (17-4) by a 7-5, 7-5 score earlier this season.
Normal Community West’s No. 2 seeded Madeline Gentry (20-1) faces NC’s third-seeded Anna Mayes (15-1) in the opposite singles semifinal. Mayes beat Moline junior Camille Keys, 6-0, 6-0 to reach the semifinals. Keys beat UT’s Khrystina Reynolds, 6-0, 6-2 her first match.
UT’s Williams (16-3) picked up a 6-0, 6-0 win over Rock Island’s Maricella Churchill in her opener to earn her quarterfinal spot opposite Birski, who opened with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
Moline’s No. 2 doubles team of Matti Brower and Zayda Graham pulled off an opening-round upset that shifted the bottom of the doubles bracket a bit, but four of the six seeds still reached the semifinals.
Leading that group is Moline’s top-seeded duo of Lauren Myers and Sarah Gustafson, who rolled with 6-1, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-2 victories at the top of the bracket to reach the semis and what would have been a state berth.
The unseeded tandem of Brower/Graham opened with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory over fourth-seeded Varsha Naraharasetty/Rji More of Normal Community. The Maroons then dropped a 6-1, 6-3 decision to Champaign Centennial’s fifth-seeded duo of Aviv Sagiv/Leah Luchinski. Centennial’s top duo sidelined Rock Island’s Lei/Thaw 6-0, 6-0 in an opening-round match.
Myers/Gustafson, last year’s sectional runners-up and sporting a 14-3 record, face third-seeded Josie Hotsinpiller and Ava Towne of Danville in the semifinals.
In the opposite doubles semifinal, Danville’s No. 2 seeded Kedzie Griffin and Lexi Ellis face Sagiv/Luchinski.
With entries still alive in both singles and doubles, the Moline girls have a slight edge over Danville and Normal Community in the team standings. The Maroons have 12 points, two ahead of the second-place tie. Champaign Centennial (six points) is ahead of Pekin (4), Normal West (4), United Township (2) and Rock Island (0).