Kirkwood High School tennis players Sarah Stuhlmann (left) and Bridget Mayfield took top honors at the Class 2 Missouri State Girls Doubles Championship Oct. 26.
photo courtesy KHS Athletic Department (click for larger version)
November 01, 2013The streak was in jeopardy.
The second and final set of the Class 2 Missouri State Girls Doubles Championship went to a tiebreaker. Kirkwood High School tennis players Sarah Stuhlmann, a senior, and sophomore Bridget Mayfield, trailed 4-2, but the two best friends rebounded to finish what they came to do -- win the state doubles championship.
Stuhlmann and Mayfield prevailed with a 6-0, 7-6 (7-5 in tiebreaker) victory in the finals over Lee's Summit North's Logan Morrissey and Camryn Parnell on Oct. 26 at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield. The Kirkwood duo finished with a 22-0 record and did not lose a set all season.
Stuhlmann and Mayfield produced a 4-0 record at the two-day event.
"We weren't ready to lose," Mayfield said. "We were able to use each other, our strengths and weaknesses, to overcome our adversity. We picked each other up. We needed to keep it positive. We had the confidence we were going to win and it turned out the way we wanted."
"We knew how to pump each other up," Stuhlmann said. "I wouldn't want to win state with anybody else."
Mayfield, who finished second in the 2012 state singles tournament as a freshman, and Stuhlmann teamed before the start of the 2013 season rather than possibly face each other in state singles play. Together they want a state championship in Stuhlmann's final high school year.
"We wanted to win together instead of competing against each other," Mayfield said. "This was her last year. We had a real good chance at winning doubles."
Stuhlmann will graduate a year early and will continue her tennis career at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., next fall. Mayfield has two more years to win a state singles title or maybe another state doubles championship with her younger sister, Brynn, an eighth grader at Nipher Middle School.
Stuhlmann returned to Kirkwood in the middle of her junior season after spending a year-and-a-half at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch and Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Tex., located just outside San Antonio. Her older siblings, Rachel and Joseph, also attended that camp. She said she missed her family and friends, especially Mayfield. The two became friends on the tennis court when they were seven or so. They attended separate elementary and middle schools, but were best friends partly because of their mutual interests in tennis.
Stuhlmann's older sister, Rachel, now a senior for the Missouri Tigers tennis team, won the 2009 Class 2 state singles title during her senior year at Kirkwood. Sarah will major in nursing at Fairfield, a career path started by her other older sister, Hannah, now a senior at Texas Christian University.
Sarah's older brother, Joseph, one of triplets with Rachel and Hannah, was an assistant coach at Kirkwood and was there to enjoy the moment and to share a tear or two with the parents of both players.
"It was pretty surreal," Stuhlmann said. "It was a pretty cool moment. Bridget and I have played so much together that we know each other's game inside and out. We both play very aggressively."
Kirkwood's first-year coach, Nicholas Jannett, said he remembers watching Stuhlmann and Mayfield play doubles together when they were nine. Jannett said Stuhlmann and Mayfield were the perfect doubles partners.
"I saw them come full circle," Jannett said. "Both had natural talent. I knew they were special players. It was special to see them do this.
"They both like playing the baseline. They can hit the volley well and they have hard serves. Both are talented and special players. They were one of the most aggressive doubles teams down there (at state). It was very special for them."