By Matt Turer — @MattTurer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. — Not even a nagging illness or a relentless wind was enough to slow down Anna Rader in her third Springfield Invitational singles final.
Rader battled through a willful push from Glendale’s Brooke Smith to win her third consecutive Springfield Invite singles title 8-6 on Tuesday.
“In the end, I just have to power through whatever it is that’s bothering me and just play my game,” Rader said. “That’s how I win. When I just play my game.”
The Springfield Catholic senior has been nearly unbeatable in regular season singles play. But despite Smith breaking Rader’s serve to open the match and despite the two being tied 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 5-5, Rader never gave up the lead after 2-1.
“In the end, Anna knows how to win,” Irish coach Martin VerSteeg said. “She didn’t serve well today but she found other ways to win. She put some things together and we went in the right places at the right time, and that helped a lot.”
Counting her doubles title as a freshman, Rader has four titles in four years at the Springfield Invite. But a combination of factors made the fourth the toughest.
“The wind was a killer today,” Rader said. “Sometimes it makes the matches interesting and it definitely did today. Brooke is a great, competitive player, and I love playing her.”
Smith broke Rader’s serve three times, but Rader broke Smith’s in four service games.
With her serve struggling, Rader was forced to lean on ground strokes, including a powerful backhand.
“It’s back and forth with my backhand. Sometimes it’s good. Other times it’s not at all. Today I also relied on my inside-out forehand. I tried to get her to move between her backhand and her forehand,” Rader said.
For Smith, this was the first Springfield Invite final appearance in four tries.
“It was really great,” Smith, a senior, said. “I wasn’t trying to think about the final result. I was just trying to take it a game at a time. It would’ve been great to win that match, but Anna is a really tough opponent.”
Smith lost 8-3 to Rader in an August match.
“I was still playing defensive, but yet aggressive,” Smith said. “After the changeovers I’d be serving first. If I got broken, I’d try hard to break her.”
Kickapoo’s Coral Tracy beat Central’s Evelyn VanDenBerg 8-2 for third place in singles.
Kickapoo’s Asantae Haanstad and Reagan Brown won the doubles title 8-0 over Catholic’s Claire Griesemer and Ashley Andrews.
Catholic won the team title with 33.5 points. Central placed second with 27 points and Kickapoo third with 24.5